November is a month Ben Doak will not forget in a hurry after making his Liverpool first-team debut and signing his first professional contract, but there’s “plenty more to develop.”
The 17-year-old became Liverpool’s sixth youngest player to feature for the club after a fearless appearance off the bench in the Carabao Cup win over Derby, followed up by a place on the bench against Southampton.
“He’s good! It was nice to watch, eh?”
For those who have seen Doak in the academy this season, his cameo was just a glimpse at the talent he possesses and continues to develop under the guidance of Liverpool’s coaches.
And under-21s manager Barry Lewtas has said Doak is exactly “where we thought he would be” in regards to his progress, but there’s “plenty more” to come if he focuses “on his job.”
“When we sign these players, there is a real understanding of what we are bringing in. We knew Ben’s qualities and what he was capable of,” Lewtas told the Echo.
“We play a brand of football that really supports Ben as well. He has played a few games for us in the league, as well as the UEFA Youth League, and has done ever so well.
“There are parts of his game he has to get better at but he’s such a young boy. He is where we probably thought he would be and there’s plenty more to develop and come from him.
“I don’t pick the team so it’s not for me to say. Ben has just got to focus on his job at the academy.”
There’s still a long way to go for the 17-year-old, who has nine goals and seven assists in 15 games for the academy this season, but he’s seizing his chances so far.
Liverpool do not block the pathway to the first team and Lewtas enthused once more over the support the academy receives from Klopp and his coaches – as evidenced by five youngsters making their first start for the Reds against Derby.
“What [Liverpool vs. Derby] does show is that if you work and train hard, plenty of people are watching and then you let your performances do the talking,” Lewtas said of the pathway to the senior team.
“We want to try and get as many boys as we can in the first team – that is the aim.
“It’s not the easiest job, the first team is pretty strong! Whenever an opportunity comes around, it is a special time.
“In terms of the manager, Pep [Lijnders], Vitor [Matos] and all the staff, they are unbelievably supportive of what we’re trying to do.
“We always know the right times if the opportunity arises, they do trust in the young players.
“The boys go around there enough to train, so they get plenty of eyes on them.
“They obviously watch our games and the manager has been here himself this year, along with Vitor and Pep.
“They know the players, so that is down to them to decide. It is down to the boys and then the manager picks the team.”