By Kevin Koczwara
BOSTON – Preseason tours are the perfect time for young players on the cusp of first team action with a club to break through the barrier. Senior players are on vacation or away on international duty, and managers are looking for players to step up and show their worth during the highly anticipated friendlies. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is no different. He wants to see what the likes of Raheem Sterling and Suso and the rest of the team’s upcoming players bring to Liverpool and what kind of players they are because this is their time to show him that they deserve the chance to put on that famed red kit come the weekend during the Premier League season.
“The first thing is they’re getting an opportunity. I think it’s important as a young player, for any player, but certainly when you’re young. All you ask for is an opportunity,” Rodgers told the media. “Even in preseason games they can plant the seed in the manager’s mind and the supporter’s mind of their qualities. Like I said, it’s been a great opportunity for me to have a look at them up close and all of them have done very well and adapted very well to the training and the work.”
There is definitely talent in the group of youngsters Rodgers brought on tour, but he is looking for something more than talent in the players. Rodgers wants to see the youngsters show they have more than just the talent, that they have the mental qualities that separate average players from very good players. He wants to see confidence and courage on the field, not just moves and passes.
“Alongside talent the biggest thing for me in young players is personality. It’s having the personality to play and having that courage,” said Rodgers. “Not all young players are ready, especially to play for such a prestigious club like Liverpool. It takes time…
“…Many of my experiences have been with young players, and for me, like I’ve said, the age isn’t a barrier. If they’re good enough, have the personality and the talent, then I’m always willing to put them in,” he continued.
Rodgers has plenty of experience grooming young players. He worked as a youth coach at Chelsea before trying his hand at managing. And then he helped develop and groom the young Swansea side that shocked the Premier League last season with its passing and all around game. If there was ever a time for the young players at Liverpool to shine it’s now. They will get the chance with many senior players still recovering from Euros and Rodgers will be watching to see who takes the chance.