Steven Caulker was described as “excellent” after his performance in Liverpool Under-21’s 1-0 win over Leeds United in the U21 Premier League Cup.
Caulker played the full 90 minutes of Tuesday night’s game at Prenton Park, impressing in his natural position of centre-back alongside Daniel Clearly after playing as an emergency striker in each of his two substitute appearances for the first team since joining on loan from QPR.
“I thought Steven did ever so well,” Liverpool Under-21 boss Michael Beale told LFC TV.
“For him and Danny, that’s Danny’s first game in a month as well after an injury
“I thought those two were excellent, Ryan Fulton didn’t have to really make a save in the game.”
Smith discusses Liverpool contract stand-off
Caulker will not be involved in Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round replay against Exeter at Anfield on Wednesday night as he was not registered before the original tie on January 8.
Brad Smith could start again having played at St James Park, but it could have been different for the left-back, who only signed a new contract at Anfield in November despite his previous one expiring at the end of the June.
He had trials at Barnsley and Norwegian club Rosenborg in the interim period, when he was still registered to Liverpool despite not having a contract, and now he is in Jurgen Klopp’s thoughts.
Smith told the Liverpool Echo: “Was I worried it was the end? Yes definitely. A lot of things go through your mind when things like that are happening.
“You don’t know what is going to happen, it is hard, hard for your family and friends. The way it has gone it is working out.
“I was living with my mum at the time and I was speaking to staff at Liverpool throughout the whole time.
“I am just glad the way it has turned out.”
Smith is grateful for the opportunity given to him by Klopp and believes he can only improve from working with the first-team squad.
“The manager has been really good,” added Smith. “Obviously there are a few youngsters up at Melwood that he has been looking at, he has been helping a lot and is really hands on with the young players and he tells you want he wants.
“All the young lads are enjoying it and are getting a good chance, especially with the injuries.
“He has been working generally, but he has been telling me what he wants from me in terms of my crossing and when he wants me to put my crosses in which is helping a lot to be honest. He is really good, he is always hands on with every single player as individuals. Everyone is benefiting.
“I am just happy to be at Melwood every day and working with the manager. Being with the first team every day helps you improve a lot. It is the same for the likes of Cameron [Brannagan] and Connor [Randall].
“They are improving every day, it is good to be up here and I will just see what happens and try and get some more game time.
“I’m getting experience, being around the bench and big games like Arsenal. The crowd was booming, so it was a good experience again. I am just trying to learn from it all really and when I get the call from the manager to come on I am just trying to do my best to help out the team.”