'A proper talent' - Liverpool assistant Lijnders tips teenager Koumetio for big things

Billy Koumetio Liverpool 2018-19Liverpool FC/Getty

Pep Lijnders believes Billy Koumetio can be a big part of Liverpool’s future as he detailed the huge potential of the young centre-back.

Koumetio, at 17, has already made a big impression on Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad, impressing during the Reds’ pre-season training camp in Austria last month.

The Frenchman was named on the bench for the Community Shield against Arsenal, and would have featured in the squad at Chelsea last weekend had it not been for a minor injury sustained in training.

Lijnders confirmed the teenager will be assessed on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s Carabao Cup trip to League One leaders Lincoln, but spoke glowingly about Koumetio’s ability.

He said: “He’s a proper talent. He needs time but he’s a proper talent. We want to give him that time. 

“He’s a very tall centre-back, but has a real strength in the air, not only in set-pieces. If you are a pressing team, you have to accept there will be a lot of long balls and second balls, so it’s really important that you have centre-halves that are good in the air. 

“Billy, even in the air, can put the ball where he wants to put it. For his age, that’s really good and then you see his physicality, how strong he is. 

“We like to give him the opportunity to develop with us and become a strong centre-half for the future for Liverpool FC.” 

Liverpool are expected to make a number of changes to their starting XI against Lincoln, with the likes of Adrian, Neco Williams, Curtis Jones, James Milner and Takumi Minamino all pushing for starts. There could also be debuts for new signings Kostas Tsimikas and Diogo Jota.

Captain Jordan Henderson will miss the game with a thigh issue picked up at Chelsea, while defenders Joe Gomez (knee) and Joel Matip (hamstring) are also ruled out.

“Joe will train hopefully on Friday with the team, to prepare for the Arsenal game,” Lijnders said. 

“Joel will be out longer. It’s a hamstring, so it will take another two weeks. Hopefully the international break will solve that one so he’s ready afterwards for the Everton match. 

“Hendo is a little bit difficult. We have to see. For sure not tomorrow, and Arsenal will be tight, but let’s see.

“The team tomorrow will be a strong team, I think some of you guys will be surprised.”