Jurgen Klopp hailed Sheyi Ojo‘s reaction to being benched for Liverpool on Wednesday night, claiming he made a “big difference” when coming on against Plymouth Argyle.
19-year-old Ojo was one of several youngsters to start for Liverpool in their first encounter with Plymouth earlier this month, but they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Anfield, meaning Klopp’s men faced a tricky FA Cup replay at Home Park this week.
With that in mind, the Reds boss opted for a slightly more experienced line-up this time out, starting the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Lucas Leiva and Philippe Coutinho. However there were still some youngsters sprinkled throughout the team, including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn.
Klopp’s plan paid off in the end, as Lucas scored a first half winner to send Liverpool into the fourth round, but he singled Ojo out for praise after he came off the bench in the final 15 minutes, claiming he made a big impact.
“I saw a few really good things but they still have to learn,” the Reds boss told his post-match press conference (via the club’s official website). “We are not here to celebrate each single performance of our young players – that’s what we expect, that’s why they play. And then they need to get ready to be criticised.
“I don’t care what you say, but it’s important that they really listen to what we have to say. I liked, for example, the reaction of Ojo tonight.
“Everybody, maybe, with Ojo involved they expected he would have played as one of the [starters] if he [was involved in] this game tonight as one of the young players, but I was not too happy with one or two things. That’s not to say, it’s about something you need to feel and then go again.
“Today, I thought he made a big difference when he came on, with his speed and there was sharpness involved. He’s a wonderful player but, without sharpness, it’s nothing. I’m happy about their potential and we will do whatever we can to let it grow but they have a big job to do, too.”
Liverpool have scored 49 goals and conceded 24 in their 21 Premier League fixtures this season, with a shot accuracy of 54%, as they sit third on 45 points, seven behind leaders Chelsea.
Next up for them is a home clash with Swansea City on Saturday, before taking on Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg at Anfield.
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