Liverpool's exciting youngsters will save the club millions in future transfer windows, according to Under-21 manger Michael Beale. Jurgen Klopp has entrusted a number of the club's academy graduates in the first team in the FA Cup this season, with further opportunities expected.
Brad Smith, Cameron Brannagan, Kevin Stewart, Joao Teixeira and Sheyi Ojo all featured in the goalless draw with West Ham United at Anfield, and the quintet will likely play again in the replay at Upton Park. Their inclusion comes amid an injury crisis that sees Klopp without a host of players, a crisis the German coach decided against curing during the January transfer window.
Marko Grujic arrived from Red Star Belgrade, but has been loaned back to the Serbian club for the rest of the season, while Steven Caulker has joined until the end of the campaign on loan from Queens Park Rangers. Liverpool's limited activity in the window was in part down to the failure to agree a fee to sign Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk, but Beale believes such frugality could continue if the club's young players continue to impress.
"The aim of the academy is to develop these boys into first-team players, I think Jordon Ibe is an example of how it works well, we brought him in for a minimal fee compared to what first-team players cost," he told the Liverpool Echo. "Kevin, Cameron and Brad cost the club nothing, and I think that is really important, likewise with Jordan Rossiter and Ryan Kent, if these players can make an impact in the first team, they could save us a lot of money.
"I'm keen to not rush them, I echo Jurgen's comments on that, they're young, so let them be young, let's not criticise, let's keep applauding and encouraging them, because we have a terrible mentality in this country to build someone up then knock them down. These lads are very pure, they're giving everything for the club and they're not letting anyone down. I think the future is very exciting."
Reacting to Liverpool's 0-0 draw in the fourth round against West Ham, Beale added: "Everyone can be pleased with them at the moment, it's a shame that they didn't get the win, because I thought that they deserved it, but the replay is another opportunity for them, and it's the last time we'll go to Upton Park and I think it will be a fantastic occasion down there. Whatever team to goes to West Ham will do the club proud, but for me, I'm really pleased that they have done well and people are praising them because it means that they might get another go."