Liverpool FC: 5 Anfield Youngsters Ready to Make an Impact This Season
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has already splashed the cash this transfer season. He has brought in four top-tier players to help compete for spots and is looking for more signings.
He will, however, have somewhat of a dilemma on his hands. A good one.
It's been a while since the Reds have had a top level player come through their youth ranks, but that is simply because there is a whole new age on their way up through the system. There are several players ready to prove themselves next season, several players ready to show Dalglish a legitimate reason to give them playing time rather than some of his older players.
Here is our top five...
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John Flanagan has already seen appearances with the Liverpool first team in the Premier League as well as in the domestic cups, but this will be the first season he makes a real impact.
The 18-year-old right-back is a veteran of seven premier league games and already has picked up three yellow cards, showing he is physically and mentally ready. In the youth ranks, he has been known to be active down the wing, joining the attack, and he already showed glimpses of that this past season.
Next year, look for him to play even more as he competes with Glen Johnson for spots. Johnson, who signed a two-year extension this summer, might be moved in a year's time to make room for Flanagan permanently.
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If no new centre back is signed, Kelly will have a very good chance at making his spot in the starting XI permanent. He made 24 appearances in all competitions with the club last season and impressed enough for Dalglish to hesitate regarding a potential new signing.
Versatility will likely be Kelly's key to success at the Premier League level, as he has shown himself to be equally adept in every defensive position. His natural position is centre back, and that is probably where he will see the most action next season.
Kelly has silently crept ahead of both Martin Skrtel and Sotiris Kyrgiakos on the depth chart at Anfield. If Daniel Agger can stay fit, one of the defensive spots is his. Unless we see a new face, expect a race for the other between Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel.
Conor Coady could also make a surprise appearance...
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At 17, Jack Robinson is Liverpool's youngest ever debutants. He made three full-team appearances last season as the team struggled to find consistency at the left-back spot, and he mayhave impressed more than any of the other candidates.
It's likely the club sign a new left-back before the start of the new season, with Newcastle's Jose Enrique leading the rumour mill. Robinson, though, has featured heavily for Liverpool in pre-season and his performances suggest he may go down as the first reserve in that position.
Robinson won't go into the new season as the first option at left-back. He will, however, be given significantly more opportunities to perform next season as he turns 18.
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Next season, Raheem Sterling will become one of the youngest ever Liverpool players to play in the Premier League. Though he is still 16 until December, he will be given an opportunity behind a Liverpool team that is low on depth at the wing position.
With his talent, Raheem Sterling could probably have played in the Liverpool first-team last season, but his involvement has been severely hurt by the fact that he is still in school. The only games he's been able to play are games in Europe where he has been able to travel during half-term.
Next year, though, nothing will stand in his way. He will still be in sixth form but he will be playing with the full team, likely as a back-up winger. If he works hard, he can work his way up to being Stewart Downing's first reserve down the left-flank.
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Jesus Fernandez Saez doesn't turn 18 until November, but he has been in the plans of Liverpool's upper echelon for quite a while. With David N'gog likely shown the exit door, Suso will join an elite group of Anfield strikers already consisting of Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt.
The Spaniard will obviously not break into the starting XI next year, but he has signed his pro contract with the club and has been involved in Kenny Dalglish's plans in preseason.
Next season, he will get plenty of playing time in the domestic cups and may even get a few Premier League appearances if injuries occur. A player full of flair and skill, he projects to be a similar player to Luis Suarez when he makes the jump.