Rhys Williams looks as if he will be regularly called upon by Jurgen Klopp for the rest of the season at Liverpool as a result of their injury concerns but his performance against Aston Villa emphasises that he is a long way off being first-team quality for the Reds.
After a loan spell with Kidderminster Harriers last season, the 19-year-old has earned a promotion to Liverpool’s first-team this season after injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and more lately, Joel Matip.
The academy graduate has impressed at times, particularly in the 5-0 win against Atalanta and the 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur but his performance against Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Friday emphasised that he isn’t ready to be a first-team regular for the rest of the season.
The young defender was outpaced by 17-year-old Louie Barry for Villa’s equaliser and he never looked likely to catch the young striker as he raced through on goal, before finishing past Caoimhin Kelleher.
He also picked up a 6.7 rating from SofaScore, which was the joint-worst of any Liverpool player who started the game on the night.
Whilst a partnership of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho at centre-back didn’t produce ideal results in the Reds’ last Premier League fixture when they were beaten by Southampton, Williams’ lack of pace will likely be exploited by Manchester United in their next fixture, so Klopp must axe the 19-year-old.
Earlier in the season, Trent Alexander-Arnold was full of praise for the centre-back after he replaced Fabinho in the 2-0 win against FC Midtjylland, saying:
“That position’s probably a bit bare, to say the least. But we’ve got an amazing squad, you’ve seen Rhys Williams stepping in and doing a world-class job, at a young age with such little experience. He’s got a bright future ahead.”
Despite this, Williams must be axed by Klopp for the Reds’ next fixture, as his disappointing performance against Villa exposed his lack of concentration and pace, something which United’s dangerous front three will surely punish at Anfield later this month.