Elijah Dixon-Bonner: from failed Portsmouth summer trial to Liverpool first-team appearance at Preston

The midfielder has made decent headway in the under-23s since his setback and was rewarded against the Championship outfit in the Carabao Cup.
Liverpool youngster Elijah Dixon-Bonner. Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty ImagesLiverpool youngster Elijah Dixon-Bonner. Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty Images
Liverpool youngster Elijah Dixon-Bonner. Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty Images

It was a substitution made to run the clock down more than anything in stoppage-time.

Still, Elijah Dixon-Bonner wouldn't have cared. He'd have relished entering the Deepdale pitch to help Liverpool see out a 2-0 victory over Preston and move into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.

Why he came on

The midfielder came on in the place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 91st minute, with Jurgen Klopp explaining why he was brought on.

"Elijah deserved a few minutes, that's how it is," the Liverpool boss told Sky Sports at the full-time whistle.

It was a second Liverpool appearance for Dixon-Bonner, with his debut arriving in an FA Cup replay victory over Shrewsbury in February 2020.

Yet, in the summer, even the 20-year-old could not have even considered donning the Liver Bird on his chest again.

Pompey trial

Dixon-Bonner had been granted permission to leave Anfield during a clear-out of several under-23 players.

The former England under-17 international attempted to kickstart his senior career at Portsmouth.

Pompey boss Danny Cowley cast his eye over a swathe of triallists all biding to win Fratton Park deals in the summer ahead of their latest League One promotion push. Dixon-Bonner was one of many.

Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley. Picture:Jacques Feeney/Getty ImagesPortsmouth manager Danny Cowley. Picture:Jacques Feeney/Getty Images
Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley. Picture:Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

He was first introduced in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Bristol City's training ground.

Dixon-Bonner featured for an hour in a 120-minute clash that ended 3-3 against the Championship outfit.

Then the ex-Arsenal youngster was handed a second outing against another second-tier outing in Luton.

That was as far as it went for Dixon-Bonner on the south coast, however. Portsmouth opted not to offer him a deal and he instead returned to Merseyside.

Since coming back to Liverpool, though, he's seemingly had a point to prove.

Progression

For the under-23s, Dixon-Bonner featured six times and fired a double in a 2-2 draw against a strong Blackburn side in Premier League 2 on Monday night.

That performance was seemingly enough to convince Klopp that he deserved a brief cameo at Preston.

It's likely that Dixon-Bonner's long-term future resides away from Anfield.

Making a late sub appearance in the Carabao Cup is one thing but you have to be a cut above to become a prominent player in a Premier League title-chasing squad.

With fellow fledgling talents Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott already key members of Klopp's set-up, along with Tyler Morton impressing on full debut against Preston, Dixon-Bonner's pathway looks blocked.

Regardless, he's clearly made marked improvements since his Portsmouth auditon.