Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp rates youngster Harvey Elliott highly and believes he is pushing for a place in the first team, according to the club’s Under-23 manager Neil Critchley.
Elliott, 16, was the youngest player on show for the Reds on Tuesday as Critchley led out Liverpool’s most youthful side in history for the EFL Cup quarter-final defeat to Aston Villa.
With Klopp in Qatar alongside the bulk of his team’s best talent ahead of their Club World Cup opener on Wednesday, Critchley was forced to play such a young team featuring the likes of 18-year-old Morgan Boyes.
Despite a 5-0 loss, however, the Under-23 boss said he was delighted with the effort shown by the players and added that Elliott is continuing to progress impressively.
“[Elliott]’s not too far away [from being a first-team regular]because he trains with our first team on a regular basis,” Critchley said in his post-match press conference.
“He’s had first-team exposure already, the manager and staff think a lot of him. I thought he was a constant threat all night, a really good outlet for us.
“But he was reliant on a lot of the players getting the ball to him and I thought the service to him was top class as well.
“I wouldn’t want to single anyone out because I thought as a collective, the whole group of players, the subs included, couldn’t have done any more.”
Critchley added that one of the most pleasing aspects of the performance was seeing his side play with an identity, saying: “I thought we played like a Liverpool team and that was really, really important to us.
“We spoke about what we could control before the game, what was important to us. Good, bad or indifferent, we never quit.
“I don’t think you can accuse any of the Liverpool players of putting their heads down or being downhearted, they stuck at it right to the end.”
In other Liverpool news, Takumi Minamino is reportedly inching closer to a move to Anfield with a medical set for Wednesday.
The Red Bull Salzburg midfielder’s £7.25m release clause is believed to have been triggered and it is now claimed that the Japan international will join on January 1 if all goes well.
Minamino had reportedly been on Liverpool’s radar for six years before news broke of the club accelerating their efforts to sign him last week.
The midfielder has been one of his side’s standout performers so far this season, including when he scored against Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League.