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Rhys Williams’ first game since August ends with surprise defeat for strong U21s


Despite being able to call upon a host of players with first-team experience, including the returning Rhys Williams, Liverpool under-21s fell to a surprise league defeat on Sunday.

Liverpool U21s 0-2 Aston Villa U21s

Premier League 2, AXA Training Centre
March 3, 2024

Goals: Kellyman 8′, Moore (pen) 76′

Six players with a first-team appearance under their belt were in Barry Lewtas‘ starting lineup on Sunday, with the U21s able to name a strong side, unlike the U18s just days prior.

The likes of Kaide Gordon, Calum Scanlon, Trey Nyoni and Lewis Koumas joined James McConnell, who was on the bench at Forest, from the start, as did Williams.

It was the centre-back’s first game since August due to a combination of injury and a not-so-successful loan spell with Aberdeen.

The 22-year-old was recalled from the Scottish side in January and went on to join League One’s Port Vale, only to return to Kirkby just 16 days later due to an “underlying injury issue.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool's Lewis Koumas during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Williams played 71 minutes on his return to action, joining 17-year-old Amara Nallo – who was in his first senior matchday squad against Southampton – in central defence, but neither could keep Villa out.

Omari Kellyman scored with less than 10 minutes on the clock and Fabian Mrozek was subsequently called into making a number of brilliant saves throughout the match.

Gordon and Tommy Pilling came close at the other end for the Reds, while the combination of McConnell and Koumas were thwarted at the last moment when the goal beckoned.

KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool's Calum Scanlon during a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds pushed for an equaliser, but a trip in the penalty area from Terence Miles saw the referee award Villa a late penalty, which they duly converted to make it 2-0.

There were no powers of recovery for Liverpool, whose defeat comes as a surprise considering the strength of their lineup against a Villa side sitting 14th in the table, eight places below the Reds.

The defeat ends a run of three Premier League 2 wins in a row and widens the gap to top-placed Tottenham to eight points.

There is more academy action on the weekend, but Jurgen Klopp is expected to again turn to some of the names from this side for the Europa League trip to Sparta Prague on Thursday – exact names are expected to be confirmed on Wednesday.

Liverpool U21s: Mrozek; Miles, Williams (Pinnington 71′), Nallo, Scanlon (Davidson 57′); McConnell (Kone-Doherty 46′), Gordon, Pilling; Musialowski, Nyoni, Koumas (Morrison 46′)

Subs not used: O. Kelly

Next match: Reading (A) – Premier League 2 – Sunday, March 10, 1pm (GMT)