FIVE Liverpool young guns hit a career crossroads

Everyone has been hailing the success of the Reds Academy over the last few months with the emergence of players such as John Flanagan and Jack Robinson. For other youngsters though, this summer, rather than being the start of their Anfield careers, could see the end of their time on Merseyside.

Nathan Eccleston – After being an integral part of Liverpool ’s FA Youth Cup team in 2009, partnering Lauri Dalla Valle, Eccleston quickly moved up to the reserve team last season, and then made his senior debut under Rafa Benitez in the Carling Cup against Arsenal. To give him more first team experience, he was sent out on loan to Huddersfield Town, but after a Red card, he was used sparingly as a substitute. He became more involved in first team affairs under Roy Hodgson at the start of this season, appearing in the Europa League, but was again loaned out to Charlton where he made 8 starts and 13 substitute appearances, scoring 3 goals. Will he get any opportunities in the Red of Liverpool next season?

David Amoo – The winger/forward moved from the youth ranks of Millwall in 2007, and quickly settled into Liverpool’s U18 team. He scored 12 goals in the 2008/09 season as he helped the Reds to their third FA Youth Cup final in four years. Known for his electric pace, he moved up to John McMahon’s reserve side last season, and continued impressing, although it was felt he could still score more goals. He played Liverpool’s first match in the Europa League this season under Roy Hodgson against FK Rabotnicki, but the lack of first team opportunities meant he was given the opportunity to go out on loan to Hull City. He mostly was used as a late substitute at Hull but he did score a spectacular goal against QPR and stated afterwards:

“It was all about being patient to get my chance in the team. I spoke to the gaffer [Nigel Pearson] and he said to me just do what you’ve been doing in training and you’ll get your chance and I’m delighted to have got it. Regarding my future, we’ll see how it goes. It’s up to the coaches and they’re the ones who see me every day. But I am enjoying it at Hull. I’ve just got to work hard and I’ve really had a good time here.”

Perhaps another season out on loan for Amoo then.

Daniel Ayala – The Spaniard defender was poached from Sevilla a few years ago, and a start for the Reds first team against Stoke at the start of last season led many to believe he would be the first defender to breakthrough into the first team. Since, he has seen Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and Jack Robinson get game time while he has got first team experience during two loan spells at Hull City and Derby County. Unhappy with how Hull treated an injury Ayala sustained, former manager Roy Hodgson vowed not to send another player on loan to Hull again. From January onwards, Ayala found himself on loan against relegation threatened Derby, helping the club keep Championship status for another season.

Chris Mavinga – The French defender accused Roy Hodgson of favouring home-grown youngsters back in August:

“I was disappointed [not to feature in first team]. I thought that with this success [European under-19 Championship] and what I produced on the training ground I would have the opportunity to train with the first team and play bits of games. Roy Hodgson, who replaced Rafael Benitez, is changing the organization of the club as he tries to encourage English players against foreigners, unlike the predecessor. He clearly stated he wanted to remake Liverpool as an English club. It is a choice I must respect.”

He was subsequently sent out on loan to Racing Genk, where he hasn’t always featured regularly. He has only made 4 appearances all season but yet there was speculation that he could make the move permanent in the summer. We will have to wait and see on this one.

Stephen Darby – The right back has seen his chances greatly diminished by the rise of Martin Kelly and John Flanagan. He spent last season out on loan at Swindon Town, where he impressed while helping the Robins to the playoffs. He was snapped up by Paul Ince’s Notts County this campaign and there was talk of making the move permanent. The departure of Ince, and his return to Merseyside after the end of the season, makes such a move now doubtful. Still, it is likely he will depart Anfield this summer.

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