Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis looks set to provide a huge opportunity for young Dubliner Conor Masterson.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Joel Matip is set to miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury – and with other defensive options Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan and even contingency plan Emre Can all ruled out also, manager Jurgen Klopp is out of first team bodies to provide backup to Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren.
That could open the door for young centre-back Masterson, who looks set to be named on the bench for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter final first leg tie against Manchester City at Anfield.
Klopp was forced to utilise a number of youth players at training at Melwood on Tuesday afternoon, including Masterson, Herbie Kane and Curtis Jones. While the latter pair probably won’t be needed in the matchday squad as Liverpool are relatively well-stocked in defence, the same cannot be said of the attack.
Masterson has been in and around the first team squad before, but this is the closest that the 19-year-old will have come to making an actual first-team appearance. The Ireland youth international has previously been named in Liverpool preliminary squads for European fixtures, and travelled with the senior squad to a training base in La Manga in 2017.
Having captained the Liverpool under-18 side in 2016/17, he was promoted to the U23s for this campaign. In all, he has made ten appearances in Premier League 2 for Neil Critchley’s side, as well as featuring seven times for Steven Gerrard’s U19s in the UEFA Youth League.
If Masterson does get some match time at Anfield on Wednesday (though as highly-rated as he is, one would think that Klopp would prefer not to have to call upon the youngster), he will be the first Irish player to line out for Liverpool since Robbie Keane in 2008.
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