Teenage winger Sheyi Ojo to spend time with Liverpool U23s as he works his way back to full fitness

Teenage winger Sheyi Ojo to spend time with Liverpool U23s as he works his way back to full fitness

Highly-rated Liverpool teenager Sheyi Ojo is to spend time with the club's Under-23s side over the coming weeks in order to get regular competitive football as he makes a steady return from over four months out injured.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Sheyi Ojo requires plenty of training and game time for Liverpool's U23s before he can make his return from a four-month injury lay-off, according to Jürgen Klopp

The teenage Reds winger suffered a stress fracture in his back in pre-season, after refusing a summer break following England U19s duty, and only returned to training in November. 

But the manager insists the 19-year-old needs to temporarily step down from the senior squad in order to gain valuable minutes of competitive action as he bids to return to full fitness.

Ojo 'needs to collect minutes with U23s' says Reds boss

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool's trip to Bournemouth, Klopp admitted that Ojo "is a very young boy" and still "needs a lot of training."

"He's not injured any more but he needs training, training, training and as much game time as possible," continued the German.

He said that he and his backroom staff "thought it made absolute sense" that "for the next few weeks" Ojo is "with the second team for training and for the games."

He said that "anything" the first-team "could do" would come "too early for him", adding: "He needs to get a rhythm and come back in shape. He's not match fit, so he needs to collect minutes with the U23s."

The wide-man, who signed for the club from MK Dons in 2011, will hope to be back fit and on the fringes of the first-team by January - when Klopp's only other recognised winger Sadio Mane will be on international duty for Senegal at the African Cup of Nations.

He broke into the senior squad last term under Klopp, after being recalled from Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers in January, making 11 appearances in all competitions.

Klopp: Very important that we give youngsters time

Klopp also declared that Liverpool's youngsters must be given time to develop and reach their potential, in the wake of Ben Woodburn's record-breaking efforts earlier in the week.

The striker scored at 17 years and 45 days against Leeds United to become the club's youngest goalscorer, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria also impressed under the Anfield floodlights.

He said that Liverpool "don't have to change anything" because they "never forgot them", insisting that they are "involved in all our plans" and "not only the three lads now."

Klopp added that he classes a young player as still 22 or 23 years old and that they still "have a lot of these boys in the club", adding: "It's right what I said a lot of times. We need to create a situation which allows them to come through, and [that means] they are ready in the moment when we use them." 

He acknowledged that "there will be a few ups and downs" in their respective developments but declared that provided they are "in the right circumstances and the right club" then "everything will be good in the end."

"We have no doubt about the potential of these boys," the Reds boss vowed, insisting that "a little bit of luck, a lot of training, a lot of education and attitude" then the club can "get a decent player" which they are "all working for."

Klopp also admitted that the breakthrough of Academy players could help save the club money in the transfer market, but added they "probably will have both" and "cannot say now that the Liverpool team in 2020 will be only homegrown players."

He said that instead, it needs to be "a mixture" of homegrown players and some of the promising signings they have brought into the club in recent years, but called it "the first thing" that is "very important" is "time" which they "have" and "need", insisting it is Liverpool's "job to give them the time."

Klopp added that he doesn't "care a second" about the ages of players as long as they "want to develop", insisting that he has "a young squad in general" and that he enjoys "a lot working with these guys."

Liverpool '100 per-cent the right club' for Academy kids, says Klopp

The Reds boss echoed the comments of Divock Origi earlier in the week - the Belgian calling Liverpool the 'perfect environment' for immensely promising young Woodburn to be in.

He explained that Liverpool is the best place for the club's Academy prospects to all realise their huge potential.

He said that they are "100 per-cent the right club for really young boys to develop, improve and become the best players they can be" but warned that there is "a long, long way to go" for them.

Klopp said that the youngsters "have to have experiences" including "the better ones" and "the not so nice ones", suggesting that's "how it is" and that "as long as we can help, we will do it."

Yet he declared that ultimately the players "have to perform on the pitch" and Klopp and his backroom staff "only can give advice" and play them when "we think they are ready."

He added: "If they deliver then fine, if not then we are responsible for it."

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