Brad Smith celebrating his equaliser against Exeter City.

Liverpool youth team have chance to impress Jurgen Klopp against Exeter

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It's difficult to say if Jurgen Klopp would have taken a draw before Liverpool met Exeter City in the third round of the FA Cup earlier this month.

The Reds' injury problems have been well documented this season and 13 players were sidelined for the 500-mile round-trip, and Klopp was forced to play his hand with a team filled with inexperience and youth.

Exeter draw

But, after all, they were playing Exeter, a side 76 league places below them.


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A draw was a fair result in Devon overall. The German did not have one full training session to prepare for the match with the starting XI that lined up at St James' Park.

Liverpool have a hectic schedule throughout this month and played host to Arsenal and Manchester United last week.

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Now, the Merseyside outfit welcome the Grecians to Anfield in the FA Cup third-round replay. Whereas they already had seven fixtures to cope with during January, that figure has now increased to Klopp's discontent.

Klopp fielded a side that was flooded with youth and inexperience against Exeter. Only Christian Benteke had made more than five first-team appearances this term and several youngsters were making their debuts.

They ran into an Exeter side who have been playing together all season, on a pitch that the hosts had a distinct advantage on.

Similar team

The German was pleased with the performance from his inexperienced side and will field a similar side in the replay at Anfield.

Although some fans would like to see the Reds play a stronger side on home soil, Klopp looks set to keep faith with those who are desperate to make the transition from the academy to the first-team.

"The situation doesn't change, we will play the same team," Klopp said following the match.

"We have to see the young players, I can't change it. We have to give intensity to different players.

"We have to do this and accept what happens in the FA Cup."

If Liverpool are to continue to flourish as a football club, it is vital that home-grown talent filters through the academy.

Home-grown talent has been noticeably missed both last season and this. Those who've developed through the ranks of the academy know the true values of the club and play with the utmost amount of passion.

Whether a player born in the city like Connor Randall, or someone who was born outside the city but been at the club for years and grown to have Liverpool flow through their blood like Cameron Brannagan, supporters like to see academy graduates given first-team appearances.

Randall and Brad Smith - who moved from Australia aged 14 to join Liverpool - both started at full-back. They've made several appearances this term in the Capital One Cup and Europa League and both look to have a bright future. Exeter striker Clinton Morrison had only compliments for the pair.

"The left-back Brad Smith is a terrific talent. He’s one for the future, and the right-back [Randall] too. I thought they were both very good."

Southampton v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Quarter Final

Smith, in particular, will be hoping to become a regular at Anfield sooner rather than later. Alberto Moreno has still not fully convinced on the left-hand side of defence and there may be temptation to switch him for Smith if he performs well in the replay. His goal was the reason Liverpool forced a replay and the Aussie will be hoping to play a significant part yet again.

The youngsters against Exeter got a real feel for first-team football. They would have learned just how much more physical it is competing against experienced players, learning some of the tricks of the trade along the way before they take the step up to Premier League level.

In Liverpool's loss against Man Utd on Sunday, the Reds were by far the better team. Kopites walked out of Anfield at the final whistle feeling robbed of three points after dominating the match for the majority.

Liverpool's longstanding problem came back to haunt them.

Despite Klopp's side having 19 shots at goal, they could not convert. In fact, David de Gea was forced to make just four saves throughout the match.

Chances from Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson went begging and Liverpool ultimately paid the price.


Last chance for Teixeira

May was the last time Lallana scored in the Premier League and he’s got weight on his shoulders to start proving his stock. Since joining from Southampton for £25 million in 2014, he’s yet to fully convince and show he’s worth such a hefty price-tag.

Joao Teixeira has been on the fringes of first-team action for some time. He moved to Anfield from Benfica for £830,000 in 2012 but has had limited first-team football. The Portugal Under-21 international had a successful loan spell at Brighton and Hove Albion last term but he’s featured just three times for the Reds this year, none of which have been in the Premier League.

Having just turned 23-years-old, he’ll want to be a first-team regular sooner rather than later. Teixeira is not getting any younger and will see his career slipping away, and will be desperate to impress.

The Reds have scored just 25 goals from 22 Premier League matches this term. They've missed key players in the final third - Daniel Sturridge especially - and a big improvement is needed in front of goal.

Liverpool v AFC Bournemouth - Capital One Cup Fourth Round

Sinclair window of opportunity

Jerome Sinclair has been a player who's had plenty of hype surrounding him in recent years. He notched over 20 goals for the Under-21's last term and also made his first-team debut.

He's been short of first-team opportunities this season but will be hoping to build on his effort previously against Exeter. Sinclair levelled the game up after 12 minutes with a low finish. He kept his cool in the situation and proved that he is a natural finisher.

Although Roberto Firmino has improved drastically as a false number nine in recent weeks, he's much better playing slightly deeper. Sinclair's pace and movement could present Klopp with what's he's been crying out for and what Benteke has not sufficiently provided when leading the Liverpool forward line.

SL Benfica v Liverpool FC  - UEFA Youth League: Round of 16

Should Jurgen Klopp start playing more youth players in the first team? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!

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