Liverpool plan for Tyler Morton and Kaide Gordon confirmed after Alisson Becker protege makes impact

Tyler Morton has impressed for Liverpool as a holding midfielder so far this season since being turned to against Norwich City in the League Cup back in September.

Since then, the 19-year-old has been handed a maiden start against Preston North End, a Premier League debut against Arsenal and a first Anfield start in the Champions League against FC Porto, with further opportunities on the horizon.

The Reds’ midfield injury crisis might slowly be easing up, but the teenager will be hopeful of featuring for Jurgen Klopp ’s side at the San Siro against AC Milan next week, while the festive period will provide further League Cup and FA Cup game-time, along with Naby Keita’ s January departure to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Yet it might be a surprise to some to learn that the role Morton has been fulfilling for the first team is a relatively new one to him, having made his name in a more advanced midfield role coming through the academy.

Back with the Under-23s on Sunday, having been an unused substitute against Southampton the day before, the midfielder completed the full 90 minutes as the young Reds ran out 3-0 winners over Leicester City.

Coming in treacherous conditions on a snow-covered pitch, Morton was able to showcase the best of his abilities from both roles against the Foxes and with head coach Barry Lewtas impressed with his performance back with Liverpool ’s youngsters, he believes it serves no benefit trying to tie the midfielder to a specific position just yet.

“It’s been a real whirlwind week for Tyler,” Lewtas exclusively told the ECHO at the LFC Academy in Kirkby. “When you’re around the young players a lot and they make their debut, I think emotionally it takes so much out of them as well.

“Tyler came back and to play in a game like that, he played with real maturity and it was probably a different type of game for him and he was really good. He showed a different side to him today.

“He’s a really good player when he can get it, play and pass but today he had to defend, he had to head, he had to clear and pick up second balls. He’ll be pleased with that one.

“Over the course of his time at the academy, we’ve never closed off those midfield positions, in terms of if he’s more of a deep-lying playmaker or a creative player. The important thing for Tyler is to put his identity onto the game, whichever midfield position he plays.

“For us, it’s just about continually trying to add to his game. Today showed a different side to him. It wasn’t his normal getting on the ball, dropping, linking, playing and playing the balls over.

“Today showed he can actually roll his sleeves up and compete and do that side. He was really mature and along with Tom, gave us a real strength in the middle today.”

Kaide Gordon was impressive for Liverpool on the right-hand side against Leicester, only to be withdrawn early in the second half.

But Lewtas confirmed that such a substitution had been pre-planned as the Reds continue to manage the youngster carefully following his recent return from injury, before praising his side in how they have coped with such setbacks now their lists of absentees is starting to ease up.

“Kaide played 90 in midweek so the situation is he had missed a few weeks with a small injury so it was just a precaution,” Lewtas confirmed. “He’s not injured, we always had plans to bring him off so it was planned.

“It was great that he has just shown he can do midweek and then Saturday.

“I couldn’t believe it, we had more than two subs! It’s been hard, not for me but for the lads in certain moments but they’ve soldiered on. We do know where we are and how things are going.

“We are aware of that but today it looked like a group of players who really stuck together and I was really pleased with that. It’s something we reinforced at the end of the game.

“In tough moments, they’ve been able to show they can stick together and hopefully that will stand us in good stead with some of the good football we play as we move through the season.”

And Lewtas reserved special praise for goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga as the Brazilian kept a clean sheet in difficult conditions against Leicester, before hailing his side’s overall performance.

“I thought Marcelo was fantastic. He doesn’t like the cold!” he said. “His distribution was good in real touch conditions and he was a really important part of our game today.

“When you need a bit of calmness and maturity, he was able to give it to us. His kicking was good and he was really mature in how he played.

“In reality, the backline kept the ball away from his goal. He didn’t have to make many saves, if any, but his ability to come for crosses when under pressure. Everyone really contributed.

“We’ve had a few tough moments recently with small mistakes and we’ve been punished for them but today I was really pleased with them.”

He continued: “It was hard to play on, we knew that. We started better than them. We’ve spoken all week about playing more with the ball in their half and working the ball up the pitch a little bit quicker and not getting caught in possession as much or making small mistakes.

“The snow almost made us have to do that. When we got the ball in their half in the first half, we played some really, really good stuff and we passed it around really well.

“Down the right, Kaide and Conor were a real threat. James Norris and Owen combined really well and I thought we did pass the ball really well.

Second half, they had a big, strong physical team or brought a big number nine on. We had to play the game that we were in.

“They came out of the traps which we knew they would but we defended ever so well. Overall, for where we’ve been recently, I was really pleased with the lads.”

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