Neco Williams finds himself on a steep learning curve at Liverpool, but the Anfield academy graduate says no “19-year-old should be getting stick like that” after finding himself targeted by trolls this season.
Big things are expected of the promising defender on Merseyside, with Jurgen Klopp prepared to show considerable faith in home-grown stars.
Williams is following in the footsteps of Trent Alexander-Arnold and the Welsh understudy has been given opportunities to impress, but inexperience has shown and mistakes have been made by a youngster still finding his feet on a senior stage.
That has not prevented critics from jumping on errors, with Williams having to grow up quickly as he finds himself operating under the brightest of spotlights.
He told The Independent of attracting unwelcome attention, such as following the Carabao Cup clash against Lincoln in September which delivered a 7-2 win for Liverpool but abuse for a mistake that led to Williams deleting his Twitter account: “I don’t think any 19-year-old should be getting stick like that.
“I haven’t got the experience, it’s always going to be tough coming into one of the best teams in the world, I’m young and I’m learning and, of course, I’ll make mistakes.
"I had some of the experienced lads around me like Virgil [van Dijk] and Hendo [Jordan Henderson]. They told me even the best players in the world get bad comments. They aren’t going to affect me. If they did, it’s only made me stronger and a better player.”
Williams accepts that his standards may slip at times, with it difficult for him to produce his best on a regular basis when operating behind “one of the best right-backs in the world” and forming part of a star-studded squad that makes regular minutes hard to come by.
The talented teenager added: “I look up to how Trent is now, coming through the academy.
“It shows nothing is impossible with hard work, determination and commitment. I know it’s going to be hard to get in the team and play week-in week-out but I just have to take every chance I get and prove I’m capable of being Trent’s main back-up and that I’m always ready to step up.
“It can be difficult if you’re not playing for a few weeks to jump straight in. The standard and the intensity of the Premier League and Champions League is difficult but the main thing is to be mentally prepared. I felt like I started to find my feet.
"My aim now is just to keep proving to the manager that I’m good enough and keep getting better. There’s nowhere better to do that than at Liverpool with the best players and the best manager in the world.”