Liverpool FC: Predicting the Next 5 Reds Youth to Make Their First-Team Debuts
Liverpool Football Club has long had one of the strongest youth setups in the world, with stars such as Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen having developed in the academy.
The Reds continue to produce talented youngsters, with Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing the latest to have broken through. Kenny Dalglish and his management team have built on the academy since taking over, and Liverpool's youth ranks might just be at an all-time high in terms of the developing talent.
Reds fans should see several young stars breaking through into the first team in the next few seasons. This is a prediction of the next five to make their debuts.
5. Andre Wisdom
The Liverpool defense has been very strong this season, but it has to be said that the group of centre-backs is thin in depth.
With Martin Kelly developing as a right-back, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel are the only top-level players in the position at the moment, and the injury to Agger has certainly exposed the lack of depth.
The Reds could well invest in the area this summer, but with the extensive talent in the youth ranks, there might be no need.
A powerful defender, Andre Wisdom has excelled in the Liverpool youth ranks and has established himself as arguably the club's most promising young defender. The 18-year-old would bring a new and different look to the Reds back four and should make his first-team debut early next season.
Through 28 games of the 2011-12 season, Liverpool's defensive group has been stellar, with the 28 goals against putting them at second in the league behind only Manchester City.
The 33 goals scored, however, is good for just 14th in the league, behind the likes of Blackburn, Norwich, West Brom, as well as the other teams looking to secure a Europa League spot.
A flair forward, Suso has proven himself to be a natural goalscorer in the Reds' reserves. He brings energy, creativity and great technical skills, and should the striker position not be drastically improved over the summer, the 18-year-old will undoubtedly get a chance to prove himself in the 2012-13 season.
Suso has a bright future ahead of him at Anfield, and he certainly seems to be dedicated to playing in front of the Kop.
"I feel very happy. I want to be here a lot of years. I want to go on and play for Liverpool's first team, playing in every game," he said in an official team interview.
3. Raheem Sterling
Before his goal against Stoke in the FA Cup quarterfinal, Stewart Downing had done next to nothing for the Reds since completing his £20 million from Aston Villa this season.
The lack of elite wingers has been a major reason for the aforementioned struggle to score, and this is another area where the Reds need to improve.
Raheem Sterling brings speed and flair to the Liverpool reserves. Undoubtedly the brightest prospect in the youth setup, the 17-year-old is said to be ready to be a contributor now, but Liverpool management is understandably unwilling to rush him.
Sterling is certainly good enough, and the Kingston, Jamaica native will get his chance to prove it sooner rather than later.
2. Peter Gulacsi
Since joining Liverpool from Villareal in 2005, star goalkeeper Pepe Reina has made 347 appearances, keeping 157 clean sheets. He has started every Premier League game for the past five seasons, and is arguably the most consistent performer in the history of Liverpool football club.
That said, Reina deserves a rest, and Peter Gulacsi, likely the club's future goalkeeper, is the man who will give him one.
The 21-year-old Hungarian, who has made 15 appearances on loan at Hull this season, has seen several games as Reina's backup, but has yet to officially make his competitive debut for the club.
He's likely to compete with Doni as the team's backup next season and figures to kick-start his Reds career in an FA Cup or League Cup tie.
1. Conor Coady
Over the past few years, the Reds have seemingly worked very hard to boost the numbers in the heart of their midfield. However, the group has clearly lacked quality, and it seems obvious that the team will again look to improve the position over the summer.
Conor Coady is a 19-year-old midfielder, who has captained both England and Liverpool youth sides. He featured for Kenny Dalglish during the summer tour of Asia, but despite impressing all the way through the reserve ranks has yet to make his competitive debut for the club.
Coady will once again get a chance this summer to prove that he's good enough and old enough, and with the club's struggles in the centre of midfield, it would be a surprise not to see Coady grab a first-team spot going into next season.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95
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