Liam Hughes.
Liam Hughes. Image Credit: Instagram/Liam Hughes

Alisson Becker was excluded from the Liverpool squad on Sunday against Sheffield United on compassionate ground, after the loss of his father, so 34-year-old Spaniard Adrian stepped up to the plate.

But with their usual back-up keeper, 22-year-old Caoimhín Kelleher, out with unspecified injuries, Liverpool put a 19-year-old Northern Irish teen on the bench, should anything happen to Adrian.

So, who is the teen playing for one of the biggest teams in the English Premier League?

Getting to the senior team

Liam Hughes clearly made an impression on Jurgen Klopp during Liverpool’s Premier League 2 match against Arsenal on Saturday. Hughes kept a massive clean sheet as the U23s fixture ended in a 4-0 result in favour of the young Reds. What makes it more impressive is that Hughes, born in 1998, is only 19 years old.

In fact, the promotions just keep coming for the budding keeper. Hughes was drafted into Liverpool’s senior team within 24 hours of making his U23s debut for the club.

But it wasn’t always this fast-moving for Hughes.

The Northern Irish player in January left Celtic FC without making any senior appearances for the Scottish Premiership side, ever since joining them in 2018.

Despite this, Klopp has already taken a chance on Hughes and put his faith into the up-and-coming keeper.

Hughes got his senior start early. He made his senior debut for Irish side Portadown when he was only 15 years old.

His former boss at the Dungannon Swifts, Rodney McAree, had full faith in Hughes’ ability to conquer his time in the big leagues.

“It’s an unbelievable move for Liam and I know he’ll do everything to make the most of it because he’s got a great attitude,” said McAree, as quoted by BelfastLive.

“He always wants to work hard at his game and he is a great character.

He has a good family behind him and it’s fantastic to see him earn a move to a club like Liverpool. It would be great to see him make progress there,” added Hughes’ former boss, who called it a “massive oppurtunity” for the youngster.

On Sunday, Hughes wasn’t the only teenager on the bench, however. He was joined by 18-year-old Polish goalkeeper Jakub Ojrzynski.

It is clear that Klopp isn’t afraid to put fresh faces in the thick of it, even though it hasn’t always paid off for the German manager.

Last year, Klopp chose 20-year-old Rhian Brewster to participate in a penalty shoot-out against Arsenal during the Community Shield.

Brewster missed and cost Liverpool the game.

Liverpool and England's Rhian brewster
Rhian Brewster. Image Credit: Reuters

Klopp, meanwhile, was not so quick to regret his decision of throwing Brewster in the deep end.

“This will not harm Rhian,” Klopp said at the time. “If anyone is to blame, it is me. I wanted him in the position because he is a real finisher and confident. Today, not. That happens in life and in football.”

Klopp last season played 17-year-old Harvey Elliott in several matches.

Premier League: Harvey Elliott - 16 years and 30 days - 2019 - Fulham
Premier League: Harvey Elliott - 16 years and 30 days - 2019 - Fulham Image Credit: AFP

“There are no old and young players, there are only good and not so good players and I hope we have only good players, exceptional players,” said Klopp.

“The problem, not just for young players, but all players not now in the first line-up – this team is really good. It is difficult to play 40 games in a row. But young players have so much time on their hands that they really can improve and don’t have the pressure, especially not from us. If they use the time, then the future is beautiful for them.”