Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he saw some “wonderful signs” from new boy Dominic Solanke in the Wednesday’s 4-0 friendly win at Tranmere.
The one new signing Klopp had available – Mohamed Salah was not allowed to play as work permit issues need to be sorted out – Solanke enjoyed an encouraging first 45 minutes in a red shirt.
He was initially brought in for the club’s under-23 squad after his contract expired at Chelsea, but he may yet force his way into first-team reckoning.
“He decides that himself. Obviously he is a young lad and it is a long-term project. I have all the time in the world,” said Klopp.
“If he brings a little bit ‘rush’ with his development then everything is good
“I saw a few wonderful signs tonight and I think everyone in England watched the Under-20 championship – that was fantastic football.
“He is a really skilled boy. He has to improve of course but a lot of things are already really good: first touch, movement.
“It is about him and the situation but I will not avoid his development. In the moment when he is strong enough he is there.
“He will train with us, of course, as often as it makes sense and often as possible and then we will see.”
Solanke had a hand in Liverpool’s third goal five minutes after coming on when his shot was parried by Scott Davies and Pedro Chirivella followed up to score and should have scored himself late on but shot straight at substitute goalkeeper Luke Pilling.
Prior to that James Milner had opened the scoring with a penalty after Sheyi Ojo was brought down by Davies and Marko Grujic, who barely played last season, rifled a low shot just inside Davies’ left-hand post.
Ben Woodburn, the club’s youngest goalscorer, made it four from the penalty spot after being brought down and another positive was captain Jordan Henderson’s first 45 minutes of action since February after his season was ended by a persistent foot problem.
Forward Sadio Mane will miss Liverpool’s pre-season trip to Hong Kong for the Premier League Trophy as he continues his recovery from a knee operation.
The Senegal international scored 13 Premier League goals last season despite spending most of January at the African Nations Cup before his campaign was prematurely ended on April 1.
He will most likely resume full training in the next week but is not ready for competitive matches yet and will remain at Melwood when the squad fly out to Asia on Sunday.
“He is really, really good. He is close; he is closing on coming back to team training,” said Klopp.
“In this moment we think it will be when we are in Asia, so then it makes no sense to take him to Asia because he needs to then do the first steps in kind of team training.”