When England manager Roy Hodgson named five Liverpool players in his starting XI in last week’s friendly against Denmark, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers rightly took the plaudits for his work in developing homegrown talent at Anfield.
Indeed, the current Liverpool and England teams provide wonderful examples of Rodgers’ management: Raheem Sterling’s rise to prominence; Daniel Sturridge’s rapid evolution to become England’s deadliest striker; Jordan Henderson’s turnaround in form, confidence and stature.
As we continue to witness the current generation of English talent at Anfield, let’s also keep an eye on the future and on the good work that is being done at the Liverpool youth academy.
Here are five players from the Liverpool youth setup who could break through next season. Enjoy and let us know your picks.
Our first name is someone who will be familiar among Liverpool fans—and, increasingly, Birmingham City supporters.
After making a cameo off the bench during Liverpool’s 5-1 rout of Arsenal in February, Jordon Ibe joined Championship side Birmingham on loan until the end of the season, per BBC Sport.
And according to the Daily Star, Ibe already made a good enough impression on Blues boss Lee Clark that he was sent on as a substitute in a 2-1 win at Blackpool just 24 hours after signing for Birmingham.
Blessed with pace, power, dribbling, tactical intelligence and an eye for goal, Ibe has a big chance to impress during his stint at Birmingham, and Brendan Rodgers will likely afford him further opportunities to catch the eye over preseason.
A look at Raheem Sterling’s exciting development already shows what could lie in store for Jordon Ibe next season.
Our next candidate is also out on loan in the Championship: Ryan McLaughlin joined Barnsley on loan in January, per BBC Sport, in an initial 28-day deal that was subsequently extended until the end of the season.
Currently sidelined with a hamstring problem, McLaughlin made a positive impression on his professional debut in January—coincidentally also against Blackpool—and will be looking to become a part of Barnsley’s starting XI in the months to come.
Having impressed against AS Roma legend Francesco Totti during Liverpool’s preseason tour of the USA in 2012, McLaughlin has had to bide his time in the reserve setup, but Barnsley will be a good test for the 19-year-old.
As Glen Johnson’s contract situation continues to be uncertain, McLaughlin could get a chance to stake his claim for a first-team place this summer.
Joao Carlos Teixeira
“I watched this kid a couple of years ago playing for Sporting Lisbon against Liverpool at Anfield in a youth game; I could see straight away he was the best player on the pitch.”
Steven Gerrard’s post-game praise for Joao Carlos Teixeira, via LiverpoolFC.com, after his debut in a 3-2 win over Fulham in February showed just how highly the Portuguese youngster is rated within the halls of Melwood and the corridors of Anfield.
It was Teixeira’s pass that led to Daniel Sturridge winning the match-winning penalty that Gerrard converted, and his appearance off the bench when the match was tied at 2-2 was a huge show of faith from Brendan Rodgers.
Since joining Liverpool from Sporting Lisbon, Teixeira initially struggled with a back injury, and a loan spell at League One side Brentford in 2013 ended early, making his recent rise in prominence all the more encouraging.
The Daily Mail has an in-depth profile of Teixeira: Expect him to be more involved in the first team in the closing months this season and step up his claim next season.
Jack Robinson has spent the current season on loan at Blackpool, where he has been a fixture in Barry Ferguson’s first team and impressed both with his tenacious defending and with his contributions in attack.
Robinson was once Liverpool’s youngest ever player when he made his senior debut for Liverpool in May 2010 during Rafael Benitez’s final game in charge of the Reds—an indication of how highly he is rated at Anfield.
His encouraging form in the Championship this season suggests that he will be part of Brendan Rodgers’ squad in their coming preseason tour of the US, where he will be eager to force his way into first-team reckoning.
With Jose Enrique still a ways away from a return from injury and Aly Cissokho failing to impress after signing on loan from Valencia, the left-back spot could be up for grabs this summer, and Jack Robinson could be one of the candidates Rodgers considers.
He will have to work on his discipline though: His record of five yellow cards and three red cards in just 24 league games this season makes him somewhat of a defensive liability still.
Brendan Rodgers may be in the market for a goalkeeper this summer, but he might well have his next backup custodian in the Liverpool academy.
Danny Ward has been a fixture for the Liverpool under-21s this season, and has impressed with his all-roundedness in goal.
The Welsh youngster was a part of Liverpool’s squad during their summer US tour in 2012, and made his first appearance in a Red shirt when he came off the bench in their preseason friendly against Preston North End last summer.
As Brad Jones fails to impress as a No. 2 behind Simon Mignolet, Ward could be given extended time this coming summer to impress Rodgers ahead of the new campaign.
This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.