Liverpool FC: Starting XI Only with Players Aged 25 or Younger
When you think of Liverpool's stars, the names that usually come to mind are Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina.
Unfortunately for them and the club, they are mostly on the wrong side of 30 (Reina will turn 30 in August). What I thought I would try to do is come up with a starting lineup using players who will be no older than 25 on the opening day of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign in August.
There are some holes to fill, but there is still some quality in this lineup.
This lineup does not include players not yet signed but rumored to be on the way (like Gylfi Sigurdsson). To be included, you have to be either under contract or actually on loan to Liverpool FC.
Peter Gulasci is the only goalkeeper currently with Liverpool that meets the criteria for selection.
Gulasci arrived on Merseyside in August of 2007, on a season-long loan from MTK Hungaria, and made the move permanent a year later.
Unfortunately for the Anfield faithful that like to keep tabs on their younger players, most of Gulasci's experience has come out on loan. Gulasci has donned the uniforms of Hull City, Hereford United and Tranmere Rovers.
Gulasci has also been capped more than 20 times for the U21 team in his native Hungary.
In his last season for Rangers, Wilson made 24 starts. He performed very well as Rangers won a domestic treble. For his efforts, the SFA, Scottish Football Writers and the club named him their Young Player of the Year.
His Reds debut was one to forget, a loss to Northampton Town in the League Cup. Undeterred, Wilson made his senior debut for Scotland a couple of months later and scored in his first match.
Kelly has been around long enough that Brendan Rodgers is his fourth manager so far at Liverpool. He made his senior team debut on December 9, 2008, coming on as a sub in a Champions League match against PSV.
The Academy graduate normally competes with fellow English international Glen Johnson for playing time at right-back, but he's also capable of playing centrally. One hopes his injury troubles are behind him.
Sebastian Coates is the first of two Uruguayan internationals in this lineup. You can probably guess the other.
Coates is an impressive 6'6" and makes an imposing presence on the pitch. He is good in the air (you should hope so, at that height) and came to Anfield after being named the 2011 Copa America's best young player.
How good is he? Uruguayan skipper Diego Lugano has said he can see Coates wearing the armband at some point in the future.
Jon Flanagan may only have 15 appearances for Liverpool, but none were bigger than his debut.
Thanks to injuries, the Liverpool-born Flanagan made his debut against Manchester City. His performance in the 3-0 win was widely praised for his heart and ability. I remember watching that game and thought he played very well.
Jonjo Shelvey has captained the U17 and U19 England squads and is currently a regular with the U21 side.
Shelvey went out on loan to Blackpool last September and scored six goals in 10 matches through November.
After Lucas Leiva's injury, Shelvey was recalled from Blackpool. A week after his return, he made his first appearance in a Premier League match against Aston Villa. He scored his first senior team goal in an FA Cup match against Oldham last January.
Speaking of Leiva, the Brazilian is the next entry on this list.
When Leiva joined the club, my first impressions of him were, to put it charitably, not good. At least a couple of my friends started calling him my favorite player, if only to irritate me.
To say that he's grown on me would be an understatement. His ACL injury during the Carling Cup tie at Stamford Bridge last November upset me more than it would have in years past. Maybe the fact that I've had the same thing happen to me had something to do with it.
His 183 Liverpool appearances, netting six times, are the most on this list.
Jay Spearing has been involved with Liverpool FC for a very long time. The Wirral-born midfielder spent nearly a decade at the LFC Academy before graduating to Melwood in May of 2007.
Spearing helped lift successive FA Youth Cup trophies before moving to the reserves. Spearing's first season with the reserves ended with a Premier Reserve League title with coach Gary Ablett.
Spearing has yet to score for the first team in a Liverpool shirt, having made 52 appearances.
Jordan Henderson has been with Liverpool for approximately a year, having joined from Sunderland, a team he joined at the age of seven. How many of you were given that kind of opportunity at that age? Right, me neither.
Like Kelly, Henderson is with the England squad at Euro 2012, awaiting Sunday's match with Italy.
Henderson has two goals with Liverpool in 49 appearances across all competitions.
Luis Suárez scored 16 minutes into his first appearance for Liverpool, after signing on deadline day in January 2011. That's always a good way to get the Kop to sing your name.
How good is Suárez? He's one of a very select few (including Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten) to have scored more than 100 goals for Ajax.
Here's to hoping he can keep himself on the pitch this coming season. His 52 appearances for Liverpool have produced 21 goals. For a team that struggled to score last season, his presence would be huge.
Andy Carroll rounds out the starting XI for those 25 or under.
Carroll is also with the England squad at Euro 2012, having been selected by new manager Roy Hodgson.
Carroll's form seemed to pick up near the end of last season, but he still only has 11 goals in 56 matches in all competitions for the Reds.
His match-winner in the FA Cup semifinal, along with the goal against Chelsea in the final, will hopefully lead to a more confident Carroll and more offensive output in the upcoming season.
The players left for the bench are: defenders Conor Coady, Jack Robinson and Andre Wisdom; midfielders Raheem Sterling and Suso; and forwards Daniel Pacheco and Nathan Eccleston.
Ownership has said they want to find young and inexpensive players to build the team around. As you can see by this lineup, there are already some young and talented players in the squad. A bit of depth and experience for the players we do have would serve the club well.
Is there someone I left out of the starting lineup I should have included? Someone I included that I shouldn't have? Tell me below in the comments.
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