Jurgen Klopp could repeat 2021 surprise and hand Liverpool debut to ‘smashing’ 17-year-old
During his eight years as Reds boss, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, Caoimhin Kelleher, Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic have all gone from exciting academy products to cast-iron first-team members. Ben Doak, meanwhile, is on the cusp of also establishing himself as a fully-fledged member of Klopp's set-up.
And it's been the Carabao Cup that has often given those coming through the ranks a platform to shine. In years gone by, the likes of Neco Williams, Conor Bradley, Tyler Morton and Kaide Gordon have all caught the eye in the competition
On the road to winning the Carabao Cuo for a record ninth time in the 2021-22 season, Liverpool faced Preston North End in the fourth round. Certainly, it was a shock that evening when Klopp handed a debut to Harvey Blair, who was primarily part of the under-18 squad at the time. The forward was given a 55-minute outing, with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all rested, and a 2-0 win was delivered.
Indeed, Klopp's selection decision at Deepdale was unpredictable. Perhaps at the same stage of the competition this term, he'll repeat the leftfield move. Liverpool's squad depth is has improved markedly some two years later but with Luis Diaz unavailable as the rescue of his father continues, the Reds are now an attacker light for tonight's trip to Bournemouth.
Klopp will also be wary that Diogo Jota played in respective wins against Toulouse and Nottingham Forest last week. Meanwhile, Darwin Nunez had a touch of cramp at the end of international duty with Uruguay earlier this month and while Mo Salah's as durable and robust as they come, he could too benefit from some respite and Doak is an injury doubt.
Cody Gakpo appears a shoo-in to feature at Bournemouth, having twice come off the bench following a three-match absence with a knee injury.
And there then could be in the offing for a promising prospect. Given Trent Kone-Doherty signed his maiden professional contract at Anfield on the eve of the tie, perhaps he could be involved.
Arriving from Derry City in July 2022, the winger has made encouraging progress. Last season, Kone-Doherty bagged 11 goals for the under-18s. And this campaign, his development has continued. He's recorded six goals and two assists in just eight appearances. Despite still being only 17, the Republic of Ireland youth international has played three times for the under-21s and netted once.
He primarily operated on the left wing, but can also play on the opposite flank.
Speaking on Kone-Doherty's progress earlier this season, under-21s boss Barry Lewtas said: "He is a player with potential and he is a smashing kid. He is unbelievably attentive and wants to do well and he really does give you attention because he wants to improve and get better."
Kone-Doherty has also trained with the Liverpool senior squad this season. Perhaps Klopp may decide he step up to be involved on a match-day.