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Discussion in 'Player Performances' started by Dub13, Jan 11, 2016.
Nice to hear from the lad, lets hope we hear a lot more.
Nice to hear this, hopes he gets a chance soon enough.
Conor Masterson: Profiling Liverpool U18s captain who could be next to step up to senior level
21 February 2017
After joining the Liverpool squad for their mid-season training camp in La Manga, Conor Masterson looks primed for the future under Jurgen Klopp.
Masterson was among a host of teenagers included in Klopp’s 27-man squad at the resort in Spain, with the German utilising a break in fixtures to his advantage.
The 18-year-old joined Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Yan Dhanda, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn alongside Klopp’s senior stars, spending five days away from Merseyside.
While their fellow youngsters have all turned out for the first team this season, Masterson and Dhanda have rarely been involved, even in training at Melwood, and this gave them vital experience.
But though Dhanda is regularly mentioned as one of the club’s most talented young players, Masterson has gone relatively under the radar.
So who is Masterson, and could he be the next youngsters to step up to senior level at Anfield?
Masterson was spotted turning out in his native Ireland in 2012, and signed a big-money deal with Liverpool after impressing for a Dublin & District Schoolboys League selection at the Kennedy Cup.
This saw him turn down interest from Man City, Man United and Chelsea, with Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers both playing a big role in convincing him to make the switch to Merseyside from Lucan United.
He didn’t move to Liverpool until he was 16, however, joining Neil Critchley’s U18s on a full-time basis in 2014, with Kirkby the ideal destination in the eyes of Masterson and his father.
“Conor felt that Liverpool was the best place for him and that was the most important,” Ciaran Masterson explained. “This is just the first rung of the ladder for Conor.”
Since then, Masterson has continued to impress at U18 level, as well as working through the ranks for Ireland, for whom he is currently an U19s regular.
He has turned also out for the Liverpool U23s, though, making his debut along with Dhanda in a 1-0 defeat away to Sunderland, 10 days after Klopp’s arrival at the club.
And just as Shamal George, Paulo Alves, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn all clearly caught Klopp’s eye in his first experience of the Reds’ U18s back in 2015, this may have been a watershed moment for the Irishman.
Three months after that loss at the Stadium of Light, Masterson was included in Klopp’s squad to take on Exeter City in the FA Cup third round at the beginning of 2016, named on the bench for the 2-2 draw.
“It’s a dream come true, it was surreal, I got told Thursday I was going up to train at Melwood, and then Friday I travelled with the team,” he explained.
“So it was a bit hectic but it was an unbelievable feeling, I was taken aback to be honest.”
He didn’t make it onto the pitch at St James Park, returning the next day to play in the U18s’ 3-0 win over Man United, but his inclusion hinted at Klopp’s faith in him for the future.
After two seasons under Critchley, Masterson was given the captain’s armband on Trent Alexander-Arnold’s promotion to the U23s—a trajectory he will no doubt follow soon enough.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Style of Play
A tall, agile centre-back, Masterson has long stood out from his counterparts at youth level, having loomed at 6’0″ from before he was snapped up as a 13-year-old in 2012.
Having hone his talents since then, he has progressed into a mature, ball-playing defender, capable of stepping out of the back in possession.
He is also able to dictate play with an accomplished range of passing, prompting forward moves with vertical passes or switching play with accurate long balls out wide.
While he is established at centre-back in the Reds’ academy, Masterson also proved his versatility by taking over from the suspended Liam Coyle for the U18s earlier this season.
With Coyle out for the mini derby at Everton’s Finch Farm, he impressed in the No. 6 role in January’s 2-1 victory.
Serving as captain for Critchley’s side, Masterson has shown his leadership, marshalling a back line that has changed regularly throughout the season so far, including a shift in tactics to a five-man unit.
One flaw that stands out however, particularly when comparing him to Gomez (19) and Mich’el Parker (18), is that Masterson is still rather slender, not possessing the physicality of a typical centre-back.
But as Joel Matip proves in the senior squad, this is not a prerequisite for a top-level defender, and like the Cameroonian, Masterson has the pace and intelligence to negotiate this.
He typically finds himself in the right place at the right time to thwart attacks, while he doesn’t shirk his duties when it comes to making strong tackles, able to play with real aggression.
Masterson is clearly an impressive young talent, but where Klopp sees him in his long-term plans remains to be seen.
What is Masterson’s Future Under Klopp?
After being an unused substitute against Exeter, Masterson’s involvement in La Manga is a promising sign for the 18-year-old under Klopp, whose interest in the defender has spanned over 12 months.
Furthermore, the Irishman comes with an endorsement from Pepijn Lijnders, so is clearly a player who has impressed Liverpool’s first-team development coach both on and off the pitch.
Speaking during the Reds’ trip to Spain, Klopp described Masterson and Dhanda as “the next boys,” hailing their “good attitude” and attesting that they had “fitted in well.”
The duo have seemingly been earmarked for a first-team role if their development continues, though given the quality in Liverpool’s attack, Dhanda will face more competition than Masterson.
The Reds are not particularly blessed at centre-back, particularly in terms of depth, and the futures of both Lucas Leiva and Ragnar Klavan will be under consideration over the next 18 months.
And at U23 level, neither Tom Brewitt (20) or Nathan Phillips (19) are likely to have a long-term future, while Juanma has largely been utilised at left-back.
Masterson is ahead of Parker, Kane Lewis and George Johnston in his development, making him the obvious choice if Klopp looks to dip into his academy ranks for centre-back reinforcement.
However, centre-back remains a difficult position for a young player to break through in, with Masterson’s slim build something that will need to be addressed if he is to be trusted.
Nevertheless, with Klopp having shown his faith in youth already throughout his tenure, it is likely that Masterson, along with Dhanda and Rhian Brewster, would be the next to break through.
Would be great to see an Irish player in the senior team again. Don't know why but I think we have had an Irishman in all our winning seasons since the 70's.
Little interview from Conor with local community radio about life in Liverpool
Good interview with Conor, thanks for sharing.
I'm always rooting that bit extra for an Irish lad at Liverpool.
I used to be like that.
Makes no difference to me now where they're from.
Few lads I teach met him up at the local club last week. Were buzzing to tell me about meeting a Liverpool player. Would be great if he is good enough to get some 1St team experience
Surely this lad is entering the managers head to get a game soon. I know it's far from ideal and the pressure be huge on him with the defense been as bad as it is but I think the others been so poor warrants him getting a chance.
Dubliner Conor Masterson poised for place on Liverpool bench
Updated / Wednesday, 4 Apr 2018 09:02
Conor Masterson could be drafted into the Liverpool match-day squad to face Man City in the Champions League
Liverpool’s strength-in-depth is likely to be tested in the full by Manchester City, but it has opened the door for Dubliner Conor Masterson who could feature in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final.
Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Anfield for the eagerly-anticipated first-leg, with his opposite number Jurgen Klopp facing an injury headache, particularly in defence.
Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez are sidelined, the former ruled out for the rest of the season, while Emre Can, who can operate in defence, is also ruled out of the all Premier League clash.
Klopp has used a number of youngsters in training this week - Herbie Kane, Curtis Jones and Nat Phillips as well as Masterson - and the 19-year-old Irish defender could get the nod for a place on the bench as cover for Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk.
Masterson has risen through the ranks at Anfield since joining the club from Lucan United in 2012 and is a former captain of the Liverpool U18s.
He has also captained his country at U17 level and has amassed 10 U19 caps for Ireland.
This season he moved up to the U23s and has made 10 appearances for the second string. He also made seven appearances in the UEFA Youth League for Steven Gerrard's U19s and has earned the praise of Klopp.
Comfortable on the ball, the teenager has also made a number of appearances in central midfield at U18 level.
Masterson was an unused substitute in the FA Cup tie against Exeter in January 2016 and should he see any game time against the Premier League leaders, he would become the first Irish players to play for the Reds in the Champions League since Robbie Keane featured against PSV a decade ago.
Has anyone watched much of him this season ?
I hope he gets onto the bench, but that's it don't need him getting game time not tonight.
Yeah would be nice for him to get a place on the bench alright, but as far as playing goes this is way out of his league
Wouldn't be surprised to see him play some part in the Derby at the weekend.
Sometimes it takes a baptism of fire for a player to really come to the fore, if required I hope that this chap is ready to make a name for himself. I have no concerns whatsover that Klopp will have him feeling 10 feet tall if he's required at any point tonight and no harm in throwing him into the derby at the weekend regardless of tonight.
If things go well tonight, he might get the last 5-10 mins of the game.
Agree on Willie's point about the weekend, it's probably the more likely of the two game for him to feature in.
He is on the bench.
If things are going well there isn’t a hope he’ll get minutes.