By Jonathan Carroll
Brendan Rodgers took the opportunity in this early pre-season friendly against Major League Soccer side Toronto FC to select a lot of fringe and youth players before the rest of the squad return on Monday from their break following the European Championships.
With Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates on Olympic duty this was a skeleton squad from which Rodgers had to choose.
In a largely forgetful first half as pre-season friendlies go, Dani Pacheco was one of the only threats as he looked to create something pulling wide from his position on the left of the three strikers in a 4-3-3 formation. Jordan Ibe is a young talent that needs some work, but he showed glimpses of why he may be one to watch for the future. More seasoned names like Alberto Aquilani and Charlie Adam struggled to impose their authority on the game.
The second half saw a completely different team take the pitch for the Reds. Rodgers choosing to give Peter Gulasci, Raheem Sterling, Adam Morgan and Fernandez Suso a chance to impress. Joe Cole was deployed on the right side of the three up front and was largely disappointing as his afternoon was summed up by a series of over hit free kicks and crosses.
Liverpool went behind to a goal from Quincy Amarikwa on 59 minutes following Gulacsi’s save from a shot by Sergio Camargo. That goal spurred the youngsters into action. Morgan was lively all evening with his movement, Sterling looked to take people on out left as Suso found him time and time again, demonstrating his eye for a pass. In the 68th minute, a jinxing Sterling run set up an Adam Morgan tap in. Morgan’s celebration showed just how much it meant to him to score for his hometown team as he celebrated with Jamie Carragher on the sideline.
This game may be remembered for one thing, the return of Lucas Leiva from injury. The Brazilian played a part in the final stages and will be eased slowly back by the Liverpool medical team who have done a great job in getting Leiva back earlier than expected.
Another midfielder Jonjo Shelvey put in an impressive shift in the center as he looks to find a way to force his way into the starting eleven.
Its important not to read too much into pre-season friendlies other than looking to improve fitness and blood some youngsters. Suso and Sterling have made their bid to be included in the season ahead.
Liverpool (first half) (4-3-3): Jones; Wisdom, Sama, Carragher; Enrique; Spearing, Aquilani, Adam; Ibe, Pacheco, Eccleston
Liverpool (second half) (4-3-3): Gulacsi, Flanagan, Skrtel, Wilson, Robinson; Adorjan (sub Lucas 74), Shelvey, Suso; Cole, Sterling, Morgan
Toronto (first half) (4-5-1): Hall, Emory, Morgan (sub Pasher 28), Avila, Frings, Henry, Eckersley, Johnson, Lambe, Dunfield, Silva
Toronto (second half) (4-5-1): Roberts; Galle, Lindsay, Stinson, Harden, Pasher; Wiedeman Eckersley, Camargo, Janniere; Amarikwa