Liverpool were left with egg on their face when they allowed Andy Carroll to join West Ham on loan just 24 hours before the transfer window closed and then failed to sign a replacement, leaving them with just Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez as the only recognised senior strikers in the squad. With the Reds competing in four competitions this season, going forward with just two strikers – one of whom was to be played out wide every week – was simply asking for trouble, and news that Borini has broken a bone in his foot whilst on international duty with Italy and faces a lengthy layoff is what fans feared would happen.
Open season is now declared on Luis Suarez, and with him getting no protection from referees, who are allowing opposition defenders to get away with borderline assault on the Uruguayan (and before someone misinterprets this as me defending his tendency to dive, it’s not; he doesn’t help himself or the club by diving and he should cut it out - but a simple watch of this will show how often he gets fouled without any real repercussions for the defender fouling him: http://tinyurl.com/9bgsu6h) fans hearts are in their collective mouths whenever he goes down clutching his leg as if he gets injured the season is a write off.
The full extent of Liverpool’s threadbare squad has been covered up somewhat by Brendan Rodgers’ propensity to use the young players, even in the big games, and this is a trait he may have to continue as Suarez will, at times, need a rest, and with Borini injured he will have to further rely on the precocious predators in the youth setup. Here’s a look at the three best candidates to step up and fill the void:
Yesil has been prolific for club (57 goals in 71 appearances from Bayer Leverkusen’s youth side) and country (21 in 20 for Germany U19s).
A £1m signing in the summer, the German U19 international rose to prominence in last summer’s U17 World Cup where he scored six goals and was one of the stars of the tournament. Yesil has been prolific for club (57 goals in 71 appearances from Bayer Leverkusen’s youth side) and country (21 in 20 for Germany U19s) at every level throughout his career, as England found out when he scored a terrific brace and claimed an assist against them last month. He is standing out in his own age group, and it will be interesting to see if he can carry that up in to the U21s.
Yesil made his first team debut in Liverpool’s win away at West Brom in the League Cup last month and should have scored early on when he flashed a header wide, but he showed confidence in his ability to trouble defenders and has great movement in and around the box. Given his pedigree at international level he seems the most qualified candidate to get a chance in the first team, and seems to have the edge over the other young forwards at the club.
The Liverpool born striker has been with the club since he was 10, and has an impressive goalscoring record, once scoring for 13 consecutive games for the U18s and ressies. Whilst not particularly physically imposing, his tenacity, attitude and work-rate have made him a manager's favourite; Brendan Rodgers has spoken at length about the need for the young players to have the right attitude, and in the Being: Liverpool documentary singled Morgan out in front of the entire squad as the player to emulate in terms of application and mentality.
Rodgers also promised Morgan he'd get his rewards due to his hard work, and so far that has rang true.
Rodgers also promised Morgan he'd get his rewards due to his hard work, and so far that has rang true. He scored his first goal in a pre-season friendly against Toronto, and made his first competitive start for the senior side at home to Hearts in the Europa League, where he was unfortunate to have a goal ruled off as the ball had apparently gone out of play in the build up. The revamped reserve system seems to have improved the standard of football for the U21 players at the club level, and hopefully Morgan and the rest of the youngsters will benefit from it in the coming months, enhancing their chances of regular first team action.
Ngoo is one of the few youngsters who hasn't been given the chance to impress for the first team, which is strange given his imposing physical stature (he's 6'4" and built like a vending machine) and his record for the ressies is pretty good, too. He turns 20 this month, and given his lack of first team football time may well be against him, but his attitude has been great and he's been prolific so far this season. A regular for England at youth level he is a nightmare to play against, but is much more than a focal point for the attack; he's quick, strong and a good dribbler, and scores more impressive solo goals than he does towering headers.
He seems to be last in the pecking order out of the three, but it would be interesting to see how he'd fare for the first team, as he has the best all round game and, particularly away from home, his physical prowess and ability to hold the ball up would come in handy. If he continues to bang in goals he'll get his chance, but it's a shame that he didn't break through a few years ago at Liverpool could have fielded a front three of Ngog, Ngoo and Amoo: a commentators dream.
You can follow Alex on twitter @woolfc
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