Ryan Kent to head Academy clear-out as Liverpool send youngsters out on loan

Ryan Kent, as well as Lloyd Jones and Jack Dunn, are among Liverpool's Academy starlets expected to leave the club on the loan in the coming weeks as the Reds look to secure regular first-team football for their youngster's respective developments.

Ryan Kent to head Academy clear-out as Liverpool send youngsters out on loan
(Picture: Sky Sports)

Ryan Kent is one of several Liverpool youngsters expected to seal temporary departures in the coming weeks as Jürgen Klopp looks to utilise the loan system.

The bright winger took his opportunity in pre-season, earning 180 minutes across the Reds' first four friendlies, but was left behind for the first-team's tour of North America.

The 19-year-old continued such form for the Under-21s on Sunday, scoring and hitting the woodwork in a 4-1 friendly win over Rhyl FC, but is set to leave for a Championship side to further his development.

In-demand Kent, who scored once in 17 appearances on loan at Coventry City last term, has attracted interest from various clubs including MK Dons, Barnsley and Bristol City among others.

The teenager has been at the club since the age of seven and remains highly-rated by the Academy, who believe regular first-team football would aid his progression better than just a handful of senior displays for the Reds across 2016-17. 

The Oldham-born forward joined the Reds' 30-man squad for their tour of Thailand, Australia and Malaysia last summer and impressed in his brief cameos.

Kent made a fine impression in pre-season. (Picture: This is Anfield)
Kent made a fine impression in pre-season. (Picture: This is Anfield)

His spell at Coventry was cut short when he was recalled by Klopp and he made his senior debut for the club back in January in the FA Cup against Exeter City.

But after an injury crisis eased, there were no opportunities for Kent, meaning he only featured for the U21s.

U21s boss Michael Beale told the Liverpool Echo that a loan spell for Kent "would be really important" as he explained that he's got "lots of talent" which could been "in the four [pre-season] games for the first-team."

Beale said that Kent is "the fittest player" among the Under-21s, hence why he "played the full 90 minutes" at Rhyl and "wore the captain's armband [in the] second-half."

"He's one of the older players and I'm really pleased with him," he continued, praising the fact he got "some assists" and "scored a good goal again."

Championship side Barnsley, who beat Millwall in the League One Play-off Final in May to gain promotion back to the second tier, are thought to be Kent's most likely destination.

Beale confident Reds youngsters can put injury woes in the past and recover promising careers

The England Under-20 international is expected to be joined by centre-back Lloyd Jones and striker Jack Dunn, both of whom are yet to make the first-team debuts. 

Jones, who spent time at Blackpool last season before injury curtailed his campaign, has also had spells with Cheltenham Town and Accrington Stanley but has yet to make the step up to the Reds' first-team.

The 20-year-old, who captained the U21s for large amounts of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, signed a new two-year deal at Anfield last May.

Dunn, who has spent time with Cheltenham and Burton Albion in recent years, also played alongside Kent and Jones for 60 minutes at Rhyl with question marks over his long-term future at the club.

The Reds' Academy could yet ship out more although the revamped reserve league, now called Premier League 2, has seen the age limit rise from 21 to 23, as well as three over-23 outfield players and an over-23 goalkeeper.

Ovie Ejaria, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Shamal George are among those to have accompanied Klopp's squad for their tour of the US - with all three expected to make the regular step-up from the Under-18s.

Ben Woodburn could be another to be promoted after scoring twice in three pre-season games, having excelled in the U18s' FA Youth Cup run last season, while the futures of other youngsters such as Harry Wilson and Jordan Williams remain uncertain. 

Wilson wore the armband for the Reds from the start at Rhyl. (Picture: Daily Post)
Wilson wore the armband for the Reds from the start at Rhyl. (Picture: Daily Post)

Beale added that it remains "early days" for both of them, suggesting Wilson - who had an unsuccessful loan at Crewe Alexandra - would have seen a similar "sort of pathway" to the first-team to the others that earned their debuts "if he was fit."

But he said he has "every faith and trust" in the 19-year-old winger in what he called "a big season" for the Welshman, while adding that Dunn will "be looking to get out on loan" because "he made a big name for himself at Cheltenham and Burton a couple of years ago" but has "been injured a lot" since.

On Williams, Beale continued that he was "basically a first-team player for a whole year" before "suffering a bit of a knee injury" on loan at Swindon Town

His display at Rhyl was "his first 30 minutes in 10 months" but said that "if he can stay fit" then they will be "looking to push him onwards and upwards."

Beale even acknowledged the hype surrounding 16-year-old forward Woodburn, saying: "Ben will be back in training this week. We just gave him a few days to let everything calm down around him. Obviously he's still such a young boy."

Beale's Under-23s face further friendlies against Celtic, Morecambe and MK Dons before starting their Premier League 2 campaign at Southampton on August 14.