With less than three months until the January transfer window, Danny Ings and Mamadou Sakho attempted to reignite their Liverpool careers by playing a full 90 minutes in the Under-23 draw with Manchester United. Just 24 hours on from the senior sides playing out of a dull stalemate in the Premier League at Anfield, the pair clashed again – but could not be separated at Leigh Sports Village.
Harry Wilson opened the scoring for the Reds after 18 minutes with a cheeky finish, redirecting Pedro Chirivella's shot past the despairing Sam Johnstone. Sakho and Ings both earlier had chances to break the deadlock and those misses proved costly, as the hosts equalised five minutes into the second half.
Chirivella brought down the rampaging Scott McTominay, allow Josh Harrop to level from the penalty spot and ensure the spoils from the second clash in as many days between Liverpool and United were shared. The point sees the Merseysiders remain fourth in Premier League 2 – the development division for clubs around the country – while United are now seventh.
"I'm frustrated," coach Michael Beale told the Liverpool Echo. "They changed their system, which paid a lot of respect to us. All the chances in the first half, barring the one they had from long range, fell to us. After going ahead, I expected us to go on and win the game.
"I was disappointed with the goal we conceded early in the second half – that didn't need to happen. But after that we played very well against what was basically the same situation that the first team faced an Anfield on Monday night."
Though United used the game to blood a number of youngsters, the Liverpool team led by Beale included several established first team players looking to win over Jurgen Klopp. The German coach was in attendance to watch Sakho, Ings and summer arrival Marko Grujic, who each completed 90 minutes, but it is yet to be seen whether the trio impressed the ex-Borussia Dortmund coach sufficiently.
Sakho has not played for Liverpool this season after being sent home from the club's pre-season tour of the United States for showing a lack of "respect". Ings, meanwhile, has seen just 27 minutes of action this term, after the club turned down eight offers in the summer for his services (according to ESPN).
Klopp has hinted that both players have a future at Liverpool, but how often he turns to the pair between now and the New Year could provide an indicator as to his plans for the January transfer window. The pair's next realistic first team opportunity could well come in the English Football League Cup against Tottenham Hotspur on 25 October.