Lynden Gooch

U18 Preview: Liverpool v Sunderland

by Ashley Houghton

Young Black Cats eyeing top spot.

Craig Liddle’s under-18’s travel to Merseyside full of confidence after last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over West Ham United at the Academy of Light.

Two goals from Liam Agnew earned the young Black Cats all three points and a move to second place in their group.

A win at Melwood on Saturday could see Liddle’s boys move top, and he told that spirit is high in the camp.

He said: “We’re very positive; I think the performance [last Saturday] was the most pleasing thing.

“There is a sense of togetherness in the squad, we were up against it for a spell, and the lads stuck together - which is obviously a massive plus for us.

“I think if we match the effort and the work rate that we had last week at West Ham, we know we’ve got the quality in the side [to win games].

“We keep on at the boys that, that is a massive part of the game [the effort and the work rate] and if we can match Liverpool in that respect, it should be a decent game.”

Sunderland travel to Liverpool with a young side, including mostly first-year scholars, but with Liverpool struggling for experience too, Liddle feels the opportunity is there for his boys to take.

“We’re under no illusions that Liverpool have one of the best academies in the country so it’s going to be a difficult game,” he added.

“What tends to happen is some of the bigger clubs have got the NextGen games to contend with as well, so I think at times Liverpool will have been young when they’ve played other teams.

“It’ll be interesting to see what sort of age bracket their team is compared to ours.”

The game will be broadcast live on LFCTV, something Liddle’s men will have to contend with having lost last time they were in front of the cameras to Manchester United back in September.

“We played Man Utd earlier on in the season, and, if I’m honest, the occasion and obviously the fact it was broadcast on TV probably affected one or two of the players, because we didn’t perform anywhere near the standards we are capable of in the first half.

“It’ll be interesting to see if the boys have learnt from that experience, it might not be down to the TV cameras but that was just one of my thoughts after the game.

“It gives the boys an opportunity; I’m pretty certain all their families and friends will be watching.

“And, as I say, it’s a chance for them to show people how good we are and how much the boys have progressed.”