Jürgen Klopp has insisted that he will not “avoid the development” of Liverpool summer signing Dominic Solanke after the striker made his uncompetitive debut in a 4-0 friendly win over Tranmere Rovers.
The 19-year-old front-man signed for the Reds after his contract at Chelsea expired, refusing to sign a new deal out of frustration at the lack of first-team opportunities on offer at Stamford Bridge.
He came off the bench for the second 45 minutes of Liverpool’s opening pre-season friendly at Tranmere on Wednesday night, helping force the third goal as the goalkeeper failed to hold strike on the spin – having controlled a bobbling pass from Ryan Kent - allowing Pedro Chirivella to steal in for a tap-in.
And Klopp admitted that he was impressed by what he saw of the teenager, who recently won the U20 World Cup with England and was handed the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player having scored four goals.
Klopp: Solanke will play when he's ready
Asked whether Solanke would train with the first-team or the Academy this season, Klopp replied: “He decides that himself but the plan is obviously that he’s a young lad and there is a long-term project. I have all the time in the world, if you want.
“If he brings a bit of a rush to his development, that’s good. I saw a few wonderful signs tonight. Of course everybody watched the England Under-20s [in the World Cup] and that was fantastic football.
“He’s an offensive player, he’s a really skilled boy. He has to improve of course but a lot of things are already really good; first touch, movement, a lot of things.
“So it’s about him, it’s about the situation. I will not avoid his development. If there is a moment where he is strong enough, he is there.
“Where he is training, I would say that is already decided he will train with the first-team of course as often as it makes sense and is possible. When he will play, we will see.”
Klopp explains absences of goalkeepers Mignolet and Ward
Goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Danny Ward were among the absentees for Liverpool at Prenton Park as they ran out 4-0 winners, with Loris Karius featuring for 70 minutes before Academy ‘keeper Kamil Grabara saw out the rest of the evening between the sticks.
Explaining why the pair were absent, the German boss said: “They came [back to training] later. Danny has a back problem, he had to finish training [early] this morning.
“Before the game it was already clear that Simon and Wardy wouldn’t play and that Loris would play. It was clear.
“The other two should have trained but Wardy couldn’t even do that.”
Quizzed about whether outcast centre-back Mamadou Sakho would feature in pre-season, having returned to Melwood to continue his rehabilitation from a knee injury, Klopp added: “First of all he needs to get 100 per-cent fit and then we will see.|