Why Liverpool persist to play in a competition they have never succeeded a game in.

Why Liverpool persist to play in a competition they have never succeeded a game in.

Anyone who doubts Liverpool’s decision to re-enter a competition in which they have yet to win a single game need only consider the previous EFL Trophy participants’ performance.

When the Reds were barely beaten 3-2 at Accrington Stanley last October, Jarell Quansah and Stefan Bajcetic were both in the initial line-up while Ben Doak came off the bench to score.

All three have since played for Jurgen Klopp’s first team this season, with Quansah making his début in Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Wolves. And each would have benefited from exposure to senior teams from lower divisions in the competition.

For this reason, Liverpool continues to accept the invitation to participate despite losing all 12 games, including one on a penalty shootout, and conceding 41 goals.

“It adds a new dimension to our game schedule,” said under-21s coach Barry Lewtas, whose squad begins its latest EFL Trophy campaign tonight at League Two’s Morecambe.

“It affords us the opportunity to compete against senior opposition in a legitimate competition, allowing our young players to acquire experience in preparation for the next level.

“Over the past few years, we have loaned a number of our players to the EFL and exposed them to what that level is all about, so for some players, this competition is the beginning of their journey.”

In fact, Accrington featured additional notable athletes. James McConnell and Lewis Koumas, both of whom played for the first team in preseason, were among the substitutes, while Layton Stewart, who made his senior debut the following month and is now the leading scorer in the Championship for Preston North End, led the attack.

Also starting were Harvey Davies, Luca Stephenson, Dom Corness, Luke Chambers, and Jake Cain, who all went on to play for the first team, either on loan or, in Cain’s case, permanently.

Chambers is the only player who could play again tonight, after which Liverpool will face Blackpool and Barrow, with whom they were also paired in Northern Section Group A.

“It’s a tough group,” Lewtas acknowledged. “I’ve been to Blackpool, we obviously know their manager Critch (former Liverpool Academy coach Neil Critchley) very well, I’ve seen Barrow a few times, and I’ve had the good fortune to watch Morecambe as well, so I’ve seen firsthand what we’ll be up against, and we’re in for a real challenge.”

The U21s’ early-season momentum was halted by a 4-1 home loss to Middlesbrough 10 days ago, but the return to action of two players was a positive development.

Kaide Gordon made his first appearance since February 2022 due to a pelvic injury, while Paul Glatzel started up front despite having played just 14 minutes of senior football in the preceding 18 months following two injury-plagued loan stints with Tranmere Rovers.

Both could play tonight, with Lewtas telling liverpoolfc.com, “It’s fantastic to see Paul returning. Now all he needs is a touch of luck and a run of games. He is now a senior athlete at the U21 level, and his attitude and approach to training are exemplary.

It’s an opportunity for him to remain fit, be strong, and continue to train and develop as a player, and I’m certain that when the transfer window reopens in January, he’ll be a tremendous addition to any squad.”

Why Liverpool persist to play in a competition they have never succeeded a game in.

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