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3 Feb 2017

Photo Proof: 'Absolutely amazing' Academy sensation trains with Coutinho and Matip; surprise inclusion vs. Hull?

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After the Academy blackout for the Chelsea game, is Jurgen Klopp about to restore one of the club's most promising young players to the first team squad?

In recent weeks, the Academy players like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria, and Ben Woodburn have been fixtures in Liverpool's matchday squad, but Sadio Mane's return seems to have heralded an abrupt end to that particular policy.

Experienced senior players made up the matchday squad for last weekend's home draw with Chelsea, but Klopp could be about to mix things up for Saturday's trip to Hull. On Thursday and Friday, Woodburn and Alexander-Arnold trained with the first-team squad (see picture below), which suggests that they're at least in contention.

When it comes to the crunch, though, I expect Klopp to shut out the Academy players yet again (as he did last season in the final months). Liverpool are under intense pressure to maintain a place in the top four, and with Man City now level on points (and looking rejuvenated), it's vital for the Reds to win on Saturday.

Additionally, it has to be said: as hyped up as they are, Woodburn et al failed to make much of an impact over the last 10-12 games, and their inclusion in the team has coincided with Liverpool's downward spiral.

That's to be expected, though - Woodburn and his Academy pals have zero experience, so they can't be held responsible; the Reds' big players have simply failed to step up this year, and they (i.e. Lallana, Hendo, Can, Firmino, Wijnaldum, Sturridge etc) deserve the blame (along with Klopp) for the club's nightmare period.

A place on the bench for Woodburn, perhaps?

* Woodburn: Hailed: by Ian Rush as 'absolutely amazing'



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