The best thing any young player can hope for is to earn the respect of your first team manager. Imagine struggling away in the development squads for years to then be given the chance and to then reap the rewards after turning in a couple of decent pre-season performances.
And the latest man making waves at Anfield is lung-busting winger Sheyi Ojo, who is known around the area for his break-neck pace down the wing.
He’s had somewhat of a taste of senior football in the near past after he spent time with Wigan Athletic and Wolves but he’s expected to have much more of a senior role at Liverpool in the upcoming season, despite Sadio Mane’s arrival this summer.
But as hinted at above, he’s earned the praise of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during this pre-season, most notably for his impressive performance in the game against AC Milan, which the Reds won 2-0.
An impressive statistic also read this week that Ojo has been directly involved in 12 goals in his past 13 appearances for the Reds, showing just how much of an influence he can be when he is in-form. But it was his manager who backed up this statistic, with a glowing praise for his young starlet.
Klopp said of Ojo after the game: “Sheyi is a wonderful player that’s for sure and his future is 100 per cent at Liverpool. We don’t have to make decisions so early – we have time and we have to use the time”.
Praise indeed, but what does it mean for the immediate future and will Ojo be able to force his way into the first-team right away?
Perhaps not no, unless injuries play a serious part in the coming days. It seems unlikely that Jurgen Klopp would drop the likes of Mane, Firmino, Coutinho, Markovic and even Wijnaldum to give Ojo his chance. But we’ve seen stranger things in football and with the early rounds of the League Cup on the horizon, Ojo may be given the chance to shine on this smaller platform. And after that, who knows. He might be given some minutes in the league, if Klopp doesn’t have a loan move in mind.
But Ojo does have a particular strength over some of his fellow attackers in that he is naturally left-footed. Whether this is enough to earn him a starting berth on the wing is yet to be seen but if it’s something that sets him aside from some of his team-mates, then it gives him an added chance.
It’s always good to have plenty of options and with Liverpool set to have another busy campaign, the addition of Ojo as a first-team player could in fact feel like a new signing.
He has promise by the bucket-load.