5 Young Liverpool Players to Know for the Future

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2014

5 Young Liverpool Players to Know for the Future

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    Brendan Rodgers has handed first-team debuts to nine players from Liverpool's academy in his two seasons in charge at Anfield.

    The Northern Irishman last season gave Andre Wisdom, Suso, Adam Morgan, Jerome Sinclair, Conor Coady, Samed Yesil and Jordon Ibe their first taste of first-team football. This season he's added Brad Smith and Joao Carlos Teixeira to the list, while Lloyd Jones, Danny Ward and Jordan Rossiter have also featured in the first-team squad as unused substitutes.

    Rodgers too has rejuvenated full-back Jon Flanagan and got the most out of Raheem Sterling, both coming from the club's academy sides.

    Although Liverpool are yet to appoint a successor to the recently departed academy duo of Rodolfo Borrell and Frank McParland, in Alex Inglethorpe (under-21s coach) and Neil Critchley (under-18s coach) they have two of the highest-rated youth coaches in Europe.

    With a pre-season tour of America this summer, and the World Cup meaning a host of international players having extended time away from the squad, opportunities will be available for youngsters again to impress.

    So who will be next to make the step up from the academy? Here are five candidates.

Ryan McLaughlin

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    Northern Irishman Ryan McLaughlin was one of those who benefited from Liverpool's last tour of America when Rodgers named him in his squad for the pre-season fixtures due to Euro 2012 meaning several star names were missing for the early fixtures.

    McLaughlin started the friendly against AS Roma and marked Francesco Totti. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the supporters.

    Since then, McLaughlin has impressed with the under-21s but has been plagued by niggling injuries.

    He's currently out on loan to Championship side Barnsley, where he has impressed, but has just picked up a second injury during his short time with The Tykes. 

    Aged only 19, McLaughlin appears to have a bright future ahead of him and this summer could be the perfect chance to shine, with Glen Johnson's future in doubt and regardless him being away at the World Cup with England.

Jordon Ibe

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    Teenager Jordon Ibe was handed a surprise full debut on the final day of last season at home to QPR. He impressed and immediately comparisons were inevitably made with Raheem Sterling.

    Ibe is a year younger than Sterling and has been loaned to Birmingham City for the latter stages of this season in order to get regular first-team football. He's made nine appearances for the Midlands side, scoring once, although some of those appearances have been from the bench.

    Another player who looks certain to be involved on the America tour in July, Ibe could remain at Anfield and make more of an impact next season as Rodgers seeks a bigger squad for an assault on four competitions.

Cameron Brannagan

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    Talented midfielder Cameron Brannagan, who isn't 18 until next month, was rewarded with a new long-term deal at Anfield back in November, as per The Daily Star.

    The versatile playmaker was included in the squad for the FA Cup third-round match against Oldham back in January, an unused substitute but still an achievement for a 17-year-old.

    This season Brannagan has been promoted early to the under-21s where he has been a regular in behind the forward, but equally capable of playing on either wing. You could liken him to Philippe Coutinho's role in the first-team squad.

    Technically sound, Brannagan is certainly one with a bright future.

Jack Dunn

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    Having excelled as captain for the under-18s, midfielder Jack Dunn has been promoted to the under-21s this season where has impressed again.

    A left-footed player with a tenacious tackle to his game, Dunn also has an eye for goal. He's scored 10 goals in 18 games for the under-21s this season.

    Nikola Mitrovic of This Is Anfield describes Dunn as a player who has:

    Magnificent technique, passing range, lethal shot from distance with both feet, especially his stronger left one, and movement that is more reminiscent of modern Spanish playmakers like David Silva than of a young lad who is yet to make a professional debut.

    Dunn is a versatile player, capable of playing up front, out wide or centrally, who has made his debut for England under-19s this season.

Brad Smith

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    Australian youngster Brad Smith was handed a surprise debut for the club as a substitute in the defeat at Stamford Bridge in December, replacing the injured Joe Allen.

    Smith, 20, was used in an unfamiliar left-midfield role and looked out of his depth in his short cameo appearance. It was harsh introduction to the first team for him, with Rodgers' squad at the time stretched due to numerous injuries.

    Smith though is an accomplished left full-back who has impressed regularly for the under-21s this season; he's fast, technically strong and capable to attacking as well as defending.

    He's another who is likely to be included in the squad for pre-season in America.