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Liverpool: Klopp may have his Salah heir in Ben Doak

Liverpool scraped through to the next round of the Carabao Cup in a penalty shoot-out win over Derby County this week and Jurgen Klopp will be relieved that his 11 changes paid off in the end.

The German coach changed the entire starting XI from the team that beat Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and gave five full senior debuts to several youth prospects that have been impressive over the last few months.

Layton Stewart, Bobby Clark, Stefan Bajcetic, Melkamu Frauendorf and Calvin Ramsey all made the starting line up at Anfield last Wednesday but it wasn’t just the starting players who gave glimpses of their talents over the performance.

One player who has been attracting attention in the youth academy is 17-year-old Ben Doak and in midweek he was given a cameo late into the clash to prove his worth, something he had no trouble achieving.

Replacing Fabio Carvalho in the 74th minute, Doak completed three out of his four dribble attempts, made one key pass, completed 100% of his crosses, won five out of his seven duels and completed one tackle within just 16 minutes on the pitch, proving that he didn’t struggle to get stuck in and pose a threat on his opponents.

The rising star – who was dubbed “fiery” by journalist Keifer MacDonald – signed for Liverpool earlier this year from Celtic and has been making himself known in the Liverpool U18, U19 and U21s since his arrival, scoring eight goals and delivering six assists in just 18 appearances, with a goal contribution every 82 minutes so far.

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock was on co-commentary duty during the match for BBC Radio 5 Live and sang the praises of Doak during his short but outstanding performance against Derby:

“Liverpool’s best attacking player since he came on has been Doak.

“He’s had such a rise that he started in the U18s at Liverpool, moved up to the U23s, scored a couple of goals and now he’s got his chance in the first team. He doesn’t shy away, he always wants to be positive.

“Defensively he’s got a real turn of pace and understands where he wants to take a player. He looks a talent.”

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With that being said, the future is looking very bright for the talented right winger who could eventually become Mohammed Salah’s heir in the years ahead if he continues to flourish.

Indeed, the Egyptian wizard is now 30 years of age and once he passes his peak, Doak will surely be of an age to perfectly replace him in the squad.

Both possess dazzling dribbling ability and quick feet, so there is no better talent in the Liverpool academy right now to follow in his footsteps.

Such an accomplishment would be unsurprising to the teenager’s first-ever coach, Evan Fairns, whose detailed description of Doak’s talent shows why he’s well-placed to make a big impact at first-team level.

“He is a special talent, and I have never known a player with so much desire to make it at the highest level,” Fairns told one British newspaper (10/11/22).

“Ben played for our 2004 team but he was born in late 2005, so he could have been almost two years younger than some of his opponents.

“That didn’t matter at all, though, he would just bulldoze past them and score goals. Ben was raw but he was explosive with his pace and could finish for fun.”

That explosive nature is certainly comparable to Salah, so it’s now just over to Klopp and the player himself to maximise the potential that’s there. If that happens, he will surely become a force to be reckoned with in the senior game.