Home News Jurgen Klopp’s “history” gave 19-year-old the hope of making full Liverpool debut

Jurgen Klopp’s “history” gave 19-year-old the hope of making full Liverpool debut

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Against Norwich, Jurgen Klopp gave James McConnell his first Liverpool start, and the 19-year-old explained how the manager’s “history” acted as motivation.

Liverpool have come through a busy January unscathed, largely thanks to the performances of Liverpool’s youngsters in the squad.

With Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo not able to start on Sunday, Klopp gave McConnell his first Liverpool start, deploying him as a defensive midfielder.

Speaking to LFC TV after the match, Mc Connell explained how Klopp’s faith in youth has given hope to academy prospects.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's James McConnell during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Newcastle-born player was asked if he felt the opportunity was coming, and replied: “I think you’re hoping more than thinking, probably.

“You’re just thinking maybe he’ll give you a chance because of the history he’s got for giving youngster’s chances, like you see with Conor [Bradley] and Jarell [Quansah], Stefan [Bajcetic] last year.

“So yeah, I think it was more of hope, but you always know if you work hard, then the chance is gonna come and you’ve just got to try and do your best to take it.”

McConnell certainly took his chance, with teammate Bradley adding: “It’s all about hard work.

“If you just keep working hard in training, you’ll get your chance, and he got his chance today and he took it with a brilliant assist.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 26, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp gives a hug to substitute James McConnell during the UEFA Europa League Group E match-day 3 game between Liverpool FC and Toulouse FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The highlight of McConnell’s game came early on, when he floated a lovely pass, using his weaker left foot, to Curtis Jones, who steered home a great header for the opening goal.

That was just 16 minutes into the match. The 19-year-old was also asked about what Klopp told him before the game.

“‘Just enjoy it. Family’s all here so just enjoy it and work hard’,” was McConnell’s response.

“I think he just sort of leaves you to it. I think that’s the best way because if he plays you, he knows that you’re ready. I think the best thing you can do is sort of treat you like all the other players.

“It just give you a confidence boost.”