Roy Hodgson has been eulogising about the performance of some Anfield youngsters against Steaua.
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“I was concerned for them (the young players), I think I asked a lot of the team with so many players who haven’t played for a long time – Joe Cole, Fabio Aurelio and Ryan Babel for example.
“Players like Danny Wilson, Dani Pacheco and Jonjo Shelvey, who have hardly played at all in the first team, asking them to come to Bucharest and get a result against a team of Steaua’s quality is what I mean by being concerned.
“It was a big ask for those players to stand up to some of the pressure and deal with the quality football Steaua played, and I’m really delighted for them that they’ve come off the field with a good result and we now top the group whatever happens in the final game.
“It’s a good achievement considering we have gone through this Europa League campaign giving many players a chance to play who don’t normally play in the Premier League.”
Having travelled to Bucharest minus the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Fernando Torres, Raul Meireles, Glen Johnson and Dirk Kuyt, Hodgson was left thrilled by the manner in which his young squad stood up to the test.
It’s been a recurring theme throughout Liverpool’s unbeaten Europa League quest so far this season – and Hodgson believes the run is serving to bolster the confidence of his young starlets.
He said: “It gives them confidence and I think we’ve seen the emergence of players like David Ngog and Martin Kelly (this season) and I think their emergence has come through these Europa League matches because they’ve been given a chance.
“Tonight I think you would have to add the name of Dani Pacheco. He hasn’t had many chances but he certainly didn’t let the team down at all, neither did Nathan Eccleston when he came on. (Liverpool Official Website)
Roy Hodgson has said and done plenty of things this season which haven’t exactly delighted Liverpool fans, but I must say I’ve been quite impressed with his efforts in the UEFA Europa League.
Some of our youngsters have gained valuable experience in Europe against decent opposition, and most impressively ground out some credible results away from Anfield.
In fact last night it was one of our very best players who made the mistake to let in the crucial goal – Pepe Reina with an uncharacteristic howler.
With Jamie Carragher out of action for the next few weeks, perhaps now is the time for Danny Wilson to be ready to step up. Sotirios Kyrgiakos will almost certainly take Carragher’s place in the side, but Wilson will need to be ready as backup.
Shelvey also has an opportunity to gain a place in central midfield, vying for a place with Lucas Leiva and Christian Poulsen.
At just 18 it is unsurprising that he is prone to errors – and he gave the ball away a few times last night – but he is showing enough promise to make Reds fans very hopeful indeed.
Finally it is great that Hodgson has highlighted Pacheco. He hasn’t had many chances – mostly because Hodgson hasn’t given him them – but it was good to see some positive words about the young Spaniard last night.
I’m not too worried about him starting on the right hand side of midfield just yet, as I feel he will be moved to a forward position with a bit more experience, and it is just pleasing to see our youngsters being given a chance – and taking it.
I’m just sorry that we lost Lauri Dalla Valle to Fulham in exchange for Paul Konchesky of all people.
Hopefully the young players we do have will make up for that.
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