Kenny Dalglish knows Liverpool's future is bright. A number of young players have broken into the first team under his watch, and the LFC boss praised the contributions they've made to the club's cause, according to Liverpool FC.TV.
"The young boys came in last year, Flanno [Jon Flanagan] and Jack Robbo [Jack Robinson] were excellent," Dalglish said. Raheem [Sterling] came on [versus Wigan], Jonjo [Shelvey] has played, Jordan [Henderson] is still a young boy.
"But their reaction and response when they've come in, they've been a credit to themselves. At times it is unfair on young players to be thrown in before they're ready. We've got to look after that and we do.
Seven players aged 21 and under have played for LFC this season, and some have played significant minutes. Henderson and Martin Kelly, both 21, are regular members of the starting 11. Flanagan and Shelvey have started games in recent weeks, although that is because other senior players are battling injuries. The four LFC players regularly represent England at the U-21 level.
Sebastian Coates has only played sparingly since joining the club last summer. But he has appeared on the substitutes' bench nearly every game this season.
Dalglish says it is important for young players to play specific roles, or at key points in a game (or season) in order to progress smoothly.
"They'll get much more benefit out of it if we make the decision about when they should play, rather than being forced to play. We've been delighted with the progress they've made.
Andy Carroll and Jay Spearing, both 23, have been featured heavily in recent months. If one considers them to be young players still, it brings the total number of young players fighting for first-team minutes to nine.
That only bodes well for the future, especially if you add players who have not broken into the first team to the mix. There are a number of talented youngsters coming behind Kelly and company, including Joao Carlos Teixeira, who joined LFC from Sporting Lisbon in January.
"We bring some of the other young boys from the Academy here to train as well and that stands them in good stead if they ever have to be thrown in because they've seen the players every day and they've trained here."
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