Neco Williams set to make Liverpool debut in Carabao Cup tie against Arsenal

Neco Williams Liverpool 2019-20
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Jurgen Klopp is planning to ring the changes for the fourth-round tie at Anfield and several youngsters are expected to get their chance

Liverpool will hand a professional debut to teenage defender Neco Williams as Jurgen Klopp prepares to ring the changes for the Reds’ Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal.

The 18-year-old is expected to start at right-back at Anfield on Wednesday night, having impressed staff since being called up to train with the senior squad at Melwood.

Wrexham-born Williams, an Under-19 international with Wales, has been impressive for Liverpool’s Under-23 and Under-19 sides this season, and with Ki-Jana Hoever away on international duty with the Netherlands he will now get his first-team chance.

Fellow teenager Sepp van den Berg is also in line to make his first Reds start, with Klopp expected to make 11 changes to his starting line-up for the fourth-round tie. 

Van den Berg is likely to partner Joe Gomez at the heart of Liverpool’s defence, as Klopp looks to protect Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren following news of a setback for Joel Matip in his recovery from a knee injury.

Caoimhin Kelleher will start in goal, as he did in the win at MK Dons in the last round, while the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi will all get valuable minutes. Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliott, two of the club’s most gifted youngsters, should also feature.

There will be more youth in the squad too, with Curtis Jones, Leighton Clarkson, Luis Longstaff and Morgan Boyes all having missed the Under-21s’ EFL Trophy defeat at Accrington on Tuesday night. Billy Koumetio, the 16-year-old centre-back, was also absent from that squad and has trained at Melwood in recent days.

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Speaking about the prospect of Williams, who joined the club at the age of eight, making his senior debut, Under-23s coach Neil Critchley told Goal: “Neco has been in and around the Under-23s last season, and he’s definitely improved his game. You know what you are going to get from him in terms of his behaviours, and being competitive all the time.

“I don’t worry about his temperament, he’s been a consistent performer for us for a season-and-a-bit and he’s gone up to Melwood and the first-team staff have been really pleased with him. He’s trained there and he’s stayed there, so that can only be a good thing.

“If he gets his opportunity, it’ll be deserved and hopefully he does himself justice.”