Liverpool FC: 6 Youth Prospects Set to Hit the Big Time
With all the talk of Liverpool's new-look youth academy being one of the best in the world right now, even bringing in comparisons to Barcelona's famous youth setup, it is natural to see those who do well at Under-18 level to be brought into the first team.
Under Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish we have seen a lot more players making the step up into the first team, with Jay Spearing getting more games under his belt, Martin Kelly getting cries for an England call-up to push fellow Liverpool player Glen Johnson out the picture and of course Jonjo Shelvey, the ex-Charlton star.
All three are looking to be good prospects in the near future for Dalglish and Liverpool, all able to offer a thirst and determination to prove to the senior players and management that they cannot be ignored or overlooked for squad selection.
But whilst these three (as well as a few others) are well known to Liverpool fans, what of some of the other talented players in Liverpool's academy? Who has the ability, drive and passion to further challenge the first-team players for a spot in the starting XI?
1. Jack Robinson
Robinson was on the verge of the first team before new signing Jose Enrique cost him a place at left-back, but Robinson knows he'll be given chances under Kenny Dalglish. Last season in the Europa League, it was the new Liverpool manager who gave the promising fullback his first-team opportunity.
An attack-minded full-back who is just as good in defence, Robinson's ability saw him move into the first team, which led to him becoming the youngest Reds player in history when he appeared as a late substitute in the 0-0 draw at Hull City at the age of just 16 years and 250 days.
Known for his fierce tackling and commitment to the team, it seems Robinson has the ability to forge a bright future for himself.
2. Raheem Sterling
One of several exciting wingers lurking in the academy and reserve teams for Liverpool, Raheem Sterling has been Lethal for the Under-18s and his form hasn't gone unnoticed either, with call-ups to the England Under-20s and starting spots in the NextGen Champions League season.
Described by many journalists as the most exciting prospect of all those in Liverpool's academy, the crafty winger has earned praise from fans being voted the academy's player of the year last season and earning a spot in the first team as a substitute during Liverpool's Europa League tie against Sparta Prague.
The nimble Sterling is capable of terrorising defences with his pace and dazzling talent as he demonstrated by scoring an incredible five goals in the 9-0 demolition of Southend in the FA Youth Cup in January. Raheem Sterling seems to have all the attributes required to be a top-quality player.
3. Adam Morgan
The lethal goal-scoring hitman for Liverpool's U-18s last season scored in 13 successive games for his side, scoring a total of 20 goals in all competitions and earning a place in the England side that competed at the U-17 European Championship last year.
With comparisons to Robbie Fowler constantly being drawn to Morgan, the young striker has some big shoes to fill but has the handy talent of being in the right place at the right time—a must for any goal-scoring striker at every level of football.
He knows where the goal is and he works hard as well and, therefore, is one to watch for this season.
4. Conor Coady
He is the current Liverpool U-18 captain and the skipper of England's of the highly successful England U-17 side that won the European Championship last year. For Conor Coady last season couldn't have been much more fruitful after being named for the Liverpool first team on two occasions.
Able to play as a holding midfielder or at centre-back, Coady is as adaptable as he is talented and tipped for big things by the coaching staff. His experience as captain of the U-18s will have given him some valuable experience of the highs and lows of football.
With making the bench for Liverpool's first team on two separate occasions, Coady is clearly doing all the right things to get noticed and 2011/12 season could be his chance at the big time.
5. Toni Silva
The Portuguese right winger is as skillful on the flank as he is in front of goal, scoring for both the U-18s and reserve sides last season. With an ability to beat defenders and get behind fullbacks, the Portuguese youth international is a massive threat on the wing.
With a whole bag of tricks and skills in his locker, Silva has the ability to amaze and confuse opposition, and it was for this reason Liverpool snapped him up from Fulham's youth academy after impressing Liverpool coach Frank McParland.
Over the past year we have only seen a sample of the talent Silva possesses at U-16 and U-18 level, but his quick progress and integration into the reserve team may see him get a crack at Kenny Dalglish's first team sooner rather than later.
6. Danny Wilson
After joining Liverpool in 2010 under former boss Roy Hodgson, Danny Wilson has only managed a handful of appearances in the Liverpool first team and has quite made the step up to Premier League football from Scottish club Rangers.
Having been capped for Scotland at the international level and even scoring against the Faroe Islands, it's only a matter of time before the young Scot breaks into the first team properly.
A left-footed defender who can play at either centre-back or fullback, Wilson plays in two positions for Liverpool, where opportunities are few and far between with established players like Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Jose Enrique.
However he was highly impressive for Rangers before joining Liverpool and he has the underlying quality to become a top defender for Liverpool. Without a doubt he'll be given his opportunities this season to prove his worth to Dalglish.