Liverpool‘s League Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa helped the Anfield club continue a trend running through the 2010s: youngsters will almost always get a chance to prove themselves.
Some 39 Liverpool academy products have made their first team debut since January 2010, and that’s not including the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Sepp van den Berg who joined as teenagers after playing first-team football elsewhere.
From Rafa Benitez’s final game in charge, right through to that cup trip to Villa Park, here’s what’s happened to the 39 who made the cut.
Robinson was just 16 when Benitez handed him a first-team debut, bringing the defender off the bench for Ryan Babel in a goalless draw with Hull in May 2010 to become the club’s youngest ever player at the time.
He played 11 games in total for the Reds, including a sole Premier League start against Birmingham City the following season, but eventually left for QPR in 2014.
The Englishman’s spell in west London was plagued by injury, but he’s still in the Championship after moving to Nottingham Forest in 2018 and has been a relatively regular fixture in Sabri Lamouchi’s side.
While Robinson’s debut came in Benitez’s last game, Amoo featured in Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge.
The London-born winger started in the 2-0 win away to Rabotnicki in a Europa League qualifier, but it was his only game for the club.
He has been hanging around the lower leagues of late, joining Port Vale over the summer.
More than a decade after his dad Paul played his last Liverpool game, Tom Ince was handed a first-team bow by Hodgson in a 2-2 League Cup draw with Northampton Town.
Other former academy players to feature that day include Nathan Eccleston, Jay Spearing and Dani Pacheco, who was replaced by Ince during extra-time. Liverpool lost on penalties in one of English football’s biggest shocks in the 2010-11 season.
Ince subsequently moved to Blackpool, scoring for the Tangerines in the Championship play-off final at the end of his first season, and has spent most of his career in England’s second tier. The attacking midfielder played his 50th Stoke City game earlier this season.
After making his debut in a victory over Manchester City towards the end of the 2010-11 season, Flanagan grew into an important part of the Reds’ squad as they finished second in the Premier League three years later.
However, knee surgery came at the wrong time for the full-back: he missed the entire 2014-15 campaign and played just nine games under Jurgen Klopp before joining Rangers in 2018.
Most of Flanagan’s games under Steven Gerrard this season have come in Europe, though he did start in the draw with Aberdeen earlier this month.
Sterling made his Reds debut towards the end of Kenny Dalglish’s tenure, replacing Dirk Kuyt in a Premier League defeat against Wigan in March 2012 and adding two more appearances from the bench before the end of ha season.
The former QPR academy prospect grew into a much more important player under Brendan Rodgers, eventually playing more than 100 games for Liverpool in all competitions.
He’s now… well he’s rather good, isn’t he?
ON THIS DAY: In 2012, Raheem Sterling made his professional debut for Liverpool vs. Wigan at Anfield.
He was just 17 years old. pic.twitter.com/LqBtzZKdLH
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 24, 2017
Rodgers’ first season in charge featured a Europa League campaign which, while not necessarily desired, allowed the manager to give youngsters an opportunity.
Liverpool-born striker Morgan was one of them, featuring in both legs of the play-off round against Hearts and starting in a 1-0 group stage defeat to Anzhi.
Morgan dropped down the divisions after leaving Anfield, spending time in non-league football and the League of Ireland. He joined Romford in November as one of the first signings of the Glenn Tamplin era.
Suso was a couple of years older than Sterling but broke through after his team-mate, making his debut in a 5-3 Europa League win away to Young Boys.
The Spaniard played 20 times in the 2012-13 season but was loaned out to Almeria after the likes of Iago Aspas and Victor Moses arrived to add experience to Rodgers’ squad.
He has since settled in well at AC Milan, playing his 150th game for the club this season
Wisdom also made his debut in that game in Switzerland, scoring one of the Reds’ goals, but he too was limited to fewer than 30 games.
The defender stuck around until 2017, but spent most of that period away on loan, including a stint at Red Bull Salzburg.
One of the other loan spells came at Derby County, who he eventually joined permanently for £4.5million.
When Sinclair replaced Samed Yesil during a League Cup meeting with West Brom in 2012, he became Liverpool’s youngest ever player at 16 years and six days old.
That was the forward’s only game in his first season, but he added two league appearances at the end of the 2014-15 season and scored his only Liverpool goal against Exeter City shortly after Jurgen Klopp took over as manager.
Sinclair moved to Watford in 2016 but has been restricted to just five games. He’s currently on loan at VVV Venlo in the Netherlands.
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) June 30, 2016
Liverpool-born defender Coady made his debut away to Anzhi, playing alongside Morgan and Wisdom, and made his Premier League debut in May 2013 against Fulham.
However, he was allowed to leave on the expiration of his contract in 2014, having not played another minute for the Reds.
He’s now Wolves captain, but you knew that already.
Yup, Brad Smith got Premier League minutes when Liverpool finished second in the 2013-14 season. We know, we can’t quite believe it either.
The Australian defender, who still had hopes of representing England at the time, played half an hour in a defeat to Chelsea just after Christmas 2013.
Smith joined Bournemouth in 2016, one of many Liverpool players to move in that direction, but has spent the last year and a bit on loan at MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders.
Teixeira made his bow in the league in the same season, featuring in a 3-2 victory over Fulham, but the Portuguese winger played more times under Jurgen Klopp than Brendan Rodgers.
His first (and last) Reds goal came in an FA Cup replay victory over Exeter, while his last Liverpool appearance came against Augsburg in the run to the 2016 Europa League final.
He is now at Vitoria but wasn’t involved in either Europa League group game against Arsenal this season.
Rossiter had a bit of a gap between his first appearance on the Liverpool bench and his first actual minutes for the club, with the latter arriving in September 2014.
He made up for lost time, scoring that day in a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough, but had been withdrawn before the epic 14-13 penalty shoot-out.
Rossiter ended his Reds career with just five appearances, moving on to Rangers in 2016. He’s currently on loan at Fleetwood Town.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 23, 2014
Williams replaced Rossiter in that game, playing 11 minutes plus extra-time and beating Jamal Blackman from the penalty spot.
But that was the Welshman’s only game for the club, and he moved to Rochdale in 2018 after a successful loan spell with the club.
Spanish midfielder Chirivella made his bow in one of Brendan Rodgers’ final games in charge, replacing the injured Kolo Toure for a 62-minute run-out against Bordeaux in the 2015-16 Europa League.
His other four appearances that season came after Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, including a sole Premier League start against Swansea.
Somehow he’s still at the club after a series of less-than-impressive loan spells and played three times n this season’s League Cup.
Brannagan made his debut in the same game, replacing Jordan Rossiter, who you’ll remember from about a minute ago (assuming you’re reading this in order).
He played nine Liverpool games in total, including one Premier League start – against West Brom in May 2016.
While Liverpool’s next generation of youngsters were losing at Villa Park, Brannagan was preparing to face Manchester City for Oxford United in another of the League Cup quarter-finals.
Randall’s debut came in one of Klopp’s first games, a 1-0 win over Bournemouth in October 2015.
He left Anfield over the summer having managed just eight first-team games and made an unlikely next move: he’s now in Bulgaria, playing for Arda Kardzhali.
🇧🇬 Former Liverpool defender Connor Randall has joined newly-promoted Bulgarian First League side Arda Kardzhali. The 23-year-old made eight first team appearances with the Reds. He joins former Leicester man Alie Sesay at Arda #LFC #englishabroad pic.twitter.com/NEZifxAsar
— English Players Abroad (@EnglishAbroad1) September 13, 2019
Perhaps surprisingly, Kent’s 57-minute outing against Exeter in January 2016 amounted to his only minutes for the club.
The winger has followed a familiar path, moving on loan to Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, and made the move permanent over the summer.
Kent has four goals in the league this season and has featured for the Gers in their Europa League run.
Ojo was another to play his first Liverpool minutes in that Exeter double-header, scoring his first goal in the replay victory.
He featured a fair bit in Klopp’s first season, but has spent a lot of time out on loan since.
Still just 22, he’s getting regular game-time for – you guessed it – Rangers.
Maguire came off the bench in Devon, too, playing 13 minutes after replacing Tiago Ilori.
After spells at Fleetwood and on loan at Crawley, he joined Accrington in the summer.
Canos has made a decent career for himself, even if it hasn’t been at Anfield.
The Spaniard earned a first-team debut as a replacement for Ojo against West Brom in May 2016, but then moved immediately to Norwich.
Things didn’t work out for Canos at Carrow Road, but he’s now back at Brentford and thriving.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) October 2, 2018
Klopp’s first full season saw him bring through a few more academy stars, with Ejaria the first to get his debut.
The young Englishman replaced Roberto Firmino in a League Cup win at Derby, and he ultimately played eight times in various competitions that season.
Liverpool have since made use of the loan system, sending Ejaria to Reading last season and this.
You know about this one.
Woodburn was extremely highly-rated when he made his Reds debut against Sunderland, replacing Gini Wijnaldum late on in the Premier League win in November 2016.
He had just turned 17 at the time and became Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer after netting against Leeds just three days later.
The forward has hit a bit of a roadblock since, enduring a tough loan spell at Sheffield United last season, but has got back into the swing of things with Oxford this time around.
Another Welsh star, Wilson made his international bow as a 16-year-old in 2013 but had to wait a while longer to represent Liverpool.
The free-kick maestro played 25 minutes in an FA Cup win over Plymouth in 2017, replacing Philippe Coutinho, but is still waiting on appearance number two.
Not that he hasn’t been successful: 18 goals last season on loan at Derby County and six in the Premier League for Bournemouth are testament to his quality.
Considered one of the best of the current bunch, Jones travelled with the first team to the Club World Cup.
That’s no mean feat for a player who got his first team debut less than 12 months ago in an FA Cup defeat to Wolves.
Jones’ Premier League debut came in the win over Bournemouth in early December, while he has also featured in this season’s League Cup.
Hoever’s debut came in the same game, as he was called into early action as a replacement for the injured Dejan Lovren.
The Dutch defender scored his first Liverpool goal this season, heading home during the League Cup victory over MK Dons, and also played in the 5-0 loss at Villa Park.
The third debutant at Molineux, Camacho started at right-back and played the entire 90 minutes.
He moved back to Portugal over the summer, signing with Sporting for £5million, but Liverpool are reported to have a 20% sell-on clause for the highly-rated player.
One of England’s star men in the 2017 Under-17 World Cup victory, Brewster’s Liverpool debut would surely have come sooner were it not for an untimely ankle injury.
The striker was on the bench for the 2019 Champions League final but had to wait until September’s win over MK Dons for his competitive debut before adding another 90 minutes in the ridiculous 5-5 draw with Arsenal.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 25, 2019
After impressing on loan at Doncaster last season, Kane got his chance in Milton Keynes as a late substitute for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
He was one of the brighter players in the quarter-final defeat at Villa Park.
Irish goalkeeper Kelleher played every minute of Liverpool’s League Cup run, having also been among last season’s Champions League final subs.
It was his penalty save from Dani Ceballos which helped set up the quarter-final with Villa.
18-year-old Welshman Williams made his debut in the 5-5 draw with Arsenal, and made a Premier League matchday squad for the first time when the Reds beat Watford.
One of many to make his debut against Villa, Bearne came off the bench for the final 25 minutes with the game already lost.
Unbelievable feeling to make my debut for this special club! The lads gave everything and can be so proud, thanks to the travelling fans for your support 👏 pic.twitter.com/3Xfo6AH96h
— Jack Bearne (@jakkbearne10) December 18, 2019
It was the unlucky Boyes who deflected Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross over Kelleher in the same game.
Former Chelsea youth player Christie-Davies came close to scoring against Villa, forcing a save from Orjan Nyland after good work from Harvey Elliott.
Another sub at Villa Park, Clarkson replaced Christie-Davies for the final 13 minutes.
A starter at Villa Park, the most notable thing about Hill’s display was his bold decision to take the number 99 shirt.
8 young players of the Academy made their official debut with Liverpool this evening:
• Morgan Boyes
• Tony Gallacher
• Isaac Christie-Davies
• Tom Hill
• Luis Longstaff
• Jack Bearne
• Leighton Clarkson
• James Norris
— Liverpool FC 🔴 (@Reds_ENG) December 17, 2019
Longstaff started against Villa only to make way for Bearne in the second half. He’s no relation to his namesakes at Newcastle.
An eight-minute runout as a replacement for Hoever at Villa Park doesn’t tell us a great deal about Norris if we’re being honest.