Liverpool Under-23 boss Neil Critchley said that the club’s youngest-ever side were “remarkable” in their FA Cup fourth-round win over Shrewsbury Town.
Liverpool’s team stood at an average of 19 years and 102 days at Anfield on Tuesday night as they overcame their League One opponents courtesy of a second-half own goal from Ro-Shaun Williams.
The Reds were on top for most of the game but Shrewsbury’s best moment came when their opening goal was ruled out for offside by VAR, with Liverpool set to face Chelsea in the fifth round next month.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference after the game, Critchley revealed his delight at the players’ performance and revealed a message from head coach Jurgen Klopp, who – along with his senior players – were absent and honouring the Premier League winter break.
Critchley said: “From the first whistle, the maturity the boys showed to play that game was remarkable. They calmed me on the sidelines. We’re the deserved winners on the night.
“The boss was in touch this afternoon with words of encouragement and he sent a message after to say that he’s buzzing.
“Jurgen is the manager of the team, of this football club. The boss is the boss. The players have done the club proud tonight. The support we had was incredible. A full house, it’s ridiculous and they stayed until the very end.”
Tuesday’s clash was the second time Liverpool have fielded a young team without any senior talent, following the defeat in the Carabao Cup to Aston Villa earlier in the season.
Critchley added: “We played like a Liverpool team and I am so proud of them. They’ve made a step forward. I was really pleased with how we stood up to the physicality of the game.
“We did things outstandingly well. It was much better than the Aston Villa game.
“We don’t want this to be a defining moment of this careers. We want this to be a taste to whet their appetites.
“They want more of it. It gives them the belief and confidence in the work they do on a daily basis that people don’t see until a night like this.”
Liverpool return to action on February 15 when they play Norwich City away in the Premier League, looking to move closer to the club’s first league title in 30 years.
The Reds need six wins from their final 13 games to secure the title after Manchester City’s defeat at Tottenham last weekend.