Football

Liverpool teen talent will be maximised under Rodgers

Liverpool's crop of exciting young talents will be given the chance to stake their claim for a place in the first-team, under the stewardship of current Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman was appointed as the Reds new manager after the club's board took the difficult decision to sack Kenny Dalglish at the end of last season, following a disappointing Premier League campaign in 2011/12.

After initially forging his coaching reputation with the Chelsea Academy, Rodgers' rise to prominence came at Swansea, where he was credited with introducing a tiki taka style of play, characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, whilst maintaining possession.

His successful implementation of a system that is easy on the eye, not only earned the side from New South Wales promotion to the Premier League, but helped them take the division by storm, finishing in an impressive 11th place in their debut campaign in England's top-flight.

When Liverpool came calling earlier this summer, Rodgers jumped at the chance to take the helm of one of the country's most illustrious clubs, having been identified by Fenway Sports Group as the man to take their project forward, with an emphasis placed on youth development.

With the American owners looking to tighten their purse strings after a number of years of extravagant spending, the limited budget on offer this summer looks set to benefit Liverpool's next generation of stars.

Rodgers has already turned his attention to the Melwood Academy to bolster his squad, handing a first Premier League start to 17-year-old winger Raheem Sterling during Sunday's 2-2 draw against Manchester City, and has no qualms with this frugal approach.

"This might be a good opportunity for them," he explained. "Because we don't have the money that some of our rivals have, I want to make the philosophy through the club that allows us to bring players from the academy into the first team.

"Young players will run through a barbed wire fence for you. Older players will look for the hole or just turn back and not even go through it. But you get that freshness from Raheem.

"I like exciting players as well and he is a boy that excites you. We want to develop what this club has had for many years and develop top young players."

Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Robinson have both started games for Liverpool's first-team this season, while talented young striker Adam Morgan is the latest player to have graduated from the youth team. But, it is Sterling who has attracted the most attention, after impressing in the Europa League tie against Hearts, the Jamaican-born forward looked equally adept when the reigning Premier League champions arrived at Anfield.

"I have seen a lot of development in him in a short time," added Rodgers. "He takes on a lot of the concepts and he is very good with instructions. Normally wingers want to do their own thing but he is tactically improving every day.

"He certainly won't be going on loan and I believe that if we can help and nurture him in the right way, he will be a very good player for Liverpool.

"One of the things that I think I have specialised in is the management of top young players. He is certainly up in that bracket. I look at players like Scott Sinclair and boys of that ilk. Raheem is certainly up there. Maybe more advanced at that age.

"It is just about nurturing him. The great thing is that his attitude is wonderful. He is really focused. He comes in and he works well. He produces and he is effective on the pitch.

"I am certain over the next few years that he will develop into a very good footballer. We just have to make sure that we keep the pressure off him."

Sterling has had to bide his time to make his breakthrough on Merseyside, after signing from Queens Park Rangers two years ago, for an initial fee of £600,000 that could rise to as much as £5million depending on first-team appearances.

He was put through his paces in the Liverpool Academy, and earned rave reviews for a string of outstanding performances, leading to selection by England at both under-16 and under-17 levels.

Included in the club's pre-season tour of North America, the teenager featured prominently with the senior side, and has responded well under the tutelage of Rodgers, despite being filmed receiving a dressing-down from his manager, in a sneak preview of Fox's forthcoming fly-on-the-wall documentary, about life at Liverpool Football Club.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Liverpool

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