LIVERPOOL

Harvey Elliott close to becoming a Liverpool regular, says Critchley

Harvey Elliott earned praise from stand-in first-team boss Neil Critchley after impressing in Liverpool's EFL Carabao Cup defeat to Aston Villa.

Elliott close to becoming a Liverpool regular – Critchley

Harvey Elliott was praised for his impressive performance during Liverpool's 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the EFL Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday. The 16-year-old pose a constant threat as Liverpool's youngest ever team were well beaten at Villa Park. The teenage winger has made three senior appearances for the Premier League giants and Neil Critchley, the under-23s coach who took charge due to Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool's senior stars being in Qatar for the Club World Cup, said Elliott was nearing a breakthrough for the European champions.

Harvey Elliot looking sharp for Liverpool

"He's not too far away because he trains with our first team on a regular basis," Critchley told a news conference. "He's had first-team exposure already, the manager and staff think a lot of him. I thought he was a constant threat all night, a really good outlet for us. But he was reliant on a lot of the players getting the ball to him and I thought the service to him was top class as well. I wouldn't want to single anyone out because I thought as a collective, the whole group of players, the subs included, couldn't have done any more. I thought we played like a Liverpool team and that was really, really important to us. We spoke about what we could control before the game, what was important to us. Good, bad or indifferent, we never quit. I don't think you can accuse any of the Liverpool players of putting their heads down or being downhearted, they stuck at it right to the end."

Klopp sends Reds youngsters half-time message

While Liverpool's inexperienced youngsters made a bright start, they found themselves 4-0 down at half-time after Jonathan Kodjia's brace, a Conor Hourihane strike and Morgan Boyes' unfortunate own goal. Critchley revealed Klopp had sent a half-time message to the squad to continue pushing despite their deficit, with Wesley adding a fifth goal in additional time for Villa.

"We had some information at half-time from the manager – basically to keep playing the way we were playing, keep being brave, keep doing what we were doing," Critchley said. "So he was out there watching with the staff and the players and I hope, and I'm sure he will be, he is proud of the way we played."

Club World Cup semis

Klopp's Liverpool face Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-finals later this evening.