Liverpool will get the first chance of the season to make sweeping changes to their starting eleven when they take on Norwich City in the third round of the Carabao Cup tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm). The Reds travel to Carrow Road just over a month after beating the same opponents at the same venue 3-0 in the Premier League. With Jurgen Klopp expected to ring the changes, three players could make their first-team debuts for the Merseyside outfit. Express Sport profiles the trio.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Neco Williams have both been ruled out of this evening’s tie and as such, Northern Irish teenager Conor Bradley should be handed his first ever competitive senior appearance at right-back.
Bradley, 18, made his international debut back in May and is said to have impressed so much at Liverpool that they do not feel they need another right-back as competition for Alexander-Arnold after Williams, who was linked with an exit in the summer transfer window.
Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough said of Bradley last month: “He’s [Klopp’s] very pleased with Conor, don’t worry. Speaking to the Liverpool management and the staff, they’re really pleased with how he has developed in pre-season.”
Bradley only joined in 2019 from Dungannon United but penned a new long-term contract in July this year and the attack-minded player has played frequently for the under-23s but was also involved in the under-18s’ run to the FA Youth Cup final last season.
Tellingly he was not involved whatsoever for the under-23s in their defeat to Leeds United on Sunday, hinting at his involvement from the off tonight.
With Roberto Firmino still recovering from injury, England under-18 winger Gordon is expected to be rewarded for his lively pre-season performances with a start in Norfolk. That’s after he too was left out of the under-23s’ squad vs Leeds.
The 16-year-old, who turns 17 on October 5, only joined the Reds from Derby County back in February for around £3million. The Athletic claim that Derby saw him as the best 16-year-old in the country and Gordon is a direct and pacy winger with a multitude of assets.
The wide-man can count Wayne Rooney among his fans, with the Rams boss and England and Manchester United legend saying earlier this year: “Kaide is a fantastic player. I brought him into the first team squad because he was showing the qualities I want.”
Rooney also hailed Gordon for being “one of the best trainers” in his squad and said: “I kept him with us for a couple of weeks and he’s been training at the same level – if not to a better level – than a lot of the other [senior] players.”
That seems to have been exactly the impact Gordon has made at Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp and his staff blown away by his talents.
MORE LIVERPOOL NEWS…
Klopp’s assistant Pepijn Lijnders said of Derby-born Gordon on Monday: “I went to watch U23s training and I see one player and he has fire in each moment he touched the ball. He passes players like they are not standing there, so I call Jurgen immediately like, ‘Wow, we have a new player here!’
“He is what you see a lot with these kind of wingers – they can outplay, they can combine – but he has a goal in him and he has this natural ability to be in the box between the goalposts to score, even when the cross comes from the opposite side, for example.
“Not many talents have that. They have maybe dribbling skills but they don’t have this desire to shoot, to come in the box, to score.
“So he is a typical Liverpool Football Club winger, in my opinion, because he has goals, he has speed. We really like him and we are really happy he is with us.”
A player more likely to start on the bench given he played 45 minutes for Barry Lewtas’ young charges against Leeds but one who might be involved at some stage against Norwich, Morton is the longest-serving of Liverpool’s potential debutants.
He joined at the age of seven and penned a new long-term contract back in January in the middle of a campaign in which he scored 10 times from midfield for the under-18s and under-23s.
Wirral-born Morton is a boyhood Liverpool fan and played in pre-season for the first team. He seems to be as highly rated as fellow midfield prospects Jake Cain and Leighton Clarkson, both of whom are out on loan for regular minutes this season.
The 18-year-old is a box-to-box midfielder in the main but can equally play in more attacking and more defensive roles.
He has professed his admiration for Thiago Alcantara’s passing ability and said earlier this year: “I used to watch Thiago when he was at Bayern Munich on the TV and he’s just a magician. They are the type of players you look up to and want to base your game on.”
Morton will also look to the likes of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott as inspiration that he can make himself a regular option in midfield in the coming campaigns. And with James Milner primed to start a second match in four days, Morton will be hopeful of getting minutes off the bench if he is not picked to start.