Liverpool FC: Martin Kelly & 5 Youngsters Who Can Become Future Stars at Anfield
In January, Liverpool was a team in peril. Languishing in 12th place, three points above the drop zone.
That is some place you generally don't associate a team like Liverpool with.
Come May, Liverpool is fighting for European places and team looks nothing like the dull defensive team that it had become under Roy Hodgson.
Most people attribute this to the arrival of Kenny Dalglish. That is something that is beyond doubt, but he could not have done it without the support of the youngsters.
In this period, Liverpool had to be with injuries to some of its most experienced players—Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio.
This gave opportunities to youngsters like Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and Jack Robinson and they have grabbed their opportunities with both hands.
The list would look at five such youngsters who are expected to become future Liverpool stars.
Martin Kelly had been knocking on the doors of the first team for the last two seasons.
However, the presence of the experienced Glen Johnson at right-back meant that he would have to wait for his chances.
He had to be content with appearances in the Cup games.
However, opportunity beckoned in the form of an injury to Glen Johnson and the non-availability of Kyrgiakos in the crucial game against Chelsea. He put in a very impressive performance that earned him a permanent place in the Liverpool starting XI.
Even when Kenny Dalglish took over the managerial duties, he preferred to play Martin Kelly at right-back and shift the more experienced Glen Johnson at left-back (this may also be due to the fact that Johnson being more experienced might have been more likely to adapt to an unfamiliar role).
However, as he started to establish himself into the first team, injury struck again which sidelined him for two months.
Even at the academy, he had missed two years due to a back problem. Kelly does have the ability to become a Liverpool legend if he is able to reverse the bad luck he seems to have with injuries.
His development seems to mirror the development of another Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher.
Most people believe that Kelly would eventually cement his place in the team as a solid central defender. However, with the performances he has given at right-back, one would not mind him making the right-back position his own as well.
Jonjo Shelvey has been touted as the next big thing in English football at the junior levels for some time now, even earning comparisons with Steven Gerrard.
Starting his career at Charlton, he became the youngest player to appear as well as score a competitive goal for Charlton in their history.
He has also made appearances for the English national U-16s, U-17s and the U-19s, also taking on the responsibilities of the captain's armband along the way.
A dominating central midfielder, he is still finding his feet in the premier league. He has the ability to defend as well as make that crucial defense-splitting pass.
He was highly impressive in the performance against the Manchester United reserves recently—scoring a goal along the way.
Shelvey is rated highly by everyone, including the Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish.
Though he is just 19 years of age, he has already made over 15 appearances for the Reds this season—a number that might have been higher if he had not picked up a injury that ruled him out for a significant period of time.
His dynamism on the field, coupled with his leadership skills, makes him a prime candidate to be a long-term replacement for Steven Gerrard.
However, whether he is able to fulfill that promise is something that remains to be seen.
Most people would know Jack Robinson as the youngest ever player to make an appearance for the Liverpool first team, making a cameo appearance against Hull City in May 2010.
However, he then had to wait for sometime before he got his opportunity to make an impression on the first team again.
And his chance came as a result of a mid-game injury to Fabio Aurelio against Arsenal.
Most pundits believed that he would be unable to cope against the speed of Theo Walcott. However, he held his own against one of the fastest wingers in England and was one of the reasons of Liverpool's impressive defensive showing in the match.
He then made his first start for Liverpool in the next match against Birmingham, where Liverpool managed to keep a clean sheet.
His defensive abilities along with his marauding runs on the wings makes him an exciting prospect and a potential future Liverpool star.
Raheem Sterling had been earning comparisons with a young Theo Walcott during his time at Queens Park Rangers.
He however, was signed from the London club in February 2010, as a part of the strategy to sign up talented youngsters.
He has already become one of the most talked about youngsters at the Academy.
He already has a number of achievements under his belt—scoring on his U18 debut against local rivals Everton in a mini derby, scoring five goals in a demolition job against Southend and an appearance for the first team in a pre-season friendly against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
And in all this one does seem to forget that he is only 16 years of age.
Though he has made appearances for England U16s and U17s, he is also eligible to play for Jamica.
His pace and skills make him one of the most exciting prospects for both Liverpool and England and he is one of the players almost certainly marked as one of the stars of the future.
Conor Coady, the current captain of the Liverpool U18s is a versatile player who can play both in the center of defense as well as a central midfielder.
He also captained the English U17s to a European Championship last year.
He started his career as a center back, but has also played a number of games in the center of midfield, playing more like a defensive holding midfielder then an attacking one.
A very calm and intelligent player, he has made rapid strides over the past couple of seasons playing for the U18s.
He is known for getting into great positions and his tackling abilities. He has worked a lot on his passing ability as well as his skills in the air.
A natural leader on the field, his ability to marshal the defense along with his astute defensive ability is something that has led may Liverpool fans to believe that he is one for the future.
He was also rewarded for his performances when Kenny Dalglish decided to include him the the squad consistently and the day does not seem far that he makes his first appearance for Liverpool.
There are some youngsters who just missed out being on the list—John Flanagan, Suso and Adam Morgan.
Flanagan has made more appearances for the Reds than most of his Academy counterparts, but his position is something that might prevent him from becoming a star of the future as he would need to compete with both Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly for a spot in the first team.
Although, with time, one does believe that he would eventually work his way into the first team.
Suso is one of the most talented players on the rolls at Liverpool and has been giving impressive performances for the reserves for some time.
It may be just a matter of time before he starts competing for a place in the first team. His skill and creativity do hold him in good stride for the same.
Adam Morgan has been one of the most prolific scorers for the Liverpool U18s this season. All the Liverpool fans might be hoping that he is able to carry that goal-scoring form to the first team in the near future.
So, with so many talented youngster at the club, the future does look quite rosy for the Reds.