12. The Class of 2018: Where Are They Now?

It’s been almost 12 months since I welcomed my first Liverpool Youth Intake, from which I identified 4 players who I thought could have an impact with the club in the future: Billy Yates, Craig Laycock, Cal Prydderch and Ellis Vernon. A group of rough diamonds, I thought it was only appropriate to take a look at them, 12 months on from their arrival at the club.

 

Billy Yates – Centre Back – £475k

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Billy has come on in leaps and bounds in terms of his attributes, improving by at least 1 point in most areas, with his biggest improvement coming in his Strength: previously bounced off the ball by almost anybody, he’s been doing some work in the weight room, and it’s paying off. With 26 appearances for the Under 18s this year, and an average rating of 7.11, Billy has also featured for our Under 23s, taking his full tally to 36 games played, 1 goal, 3 assists, a momentous 80% tackle success rate, and an average rating across the board of 7.08. Early signs are promising for the young defender, especially if he can keep up this level of performance.

Craig Laycock – Striker – £47k

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Craig’s development has been pretty solid so far – a 2-point upgrade to his dribbling, free kicks, passing and Composure have contributed to that, and Craig is starting to get himself amongst the goals. 4 goals and 6 assists in 12 games for our Under 18s saw him get his chance for the Under 23s as well, but his debut in the Checkatrade trophy was goal-less. Craig still has a long way to go if he’s to break into the first-team, but at just 16, his future still looks bright.

Cal Prydderch – Central Defender – £200k

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Cal has had to battle a few injuries in his time with the club, and this has hampered his development slightly, although he is still making progress in some areas. With 14 U18 appearances this season, Cal has managed to get himself on the scoresheet, as well as completing 70% of his attempted tackles. His average rating of 6.98 suggests that there is still a quality defender under there somewhere, he just needs more work to bring out his best.

Ellis Vernon – Mezzala – £325k

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Ellis’ development initially doesn’t look outstanding, but what I always have to remind myself is that he already has much of the Physical ability to play in midfield, and that mental attributes often take longer to develop. Ellis consistently outperforms his attributes, and has scored 3 goals and provided 8 assists for our Under 18s this year, taking home 5 Man of the Match awards. A pass completion rate of 71%, and a tackle completion rate of 83% contribute to his incredible average rating of 7.59, and show that there is a dedicated and driven midfielder just waiting to be drawn out of his shell.

 

Overall I think all four of these lads are settling well, and all look to have a bright future with the club. I’m slightly concerned by Ellis and Cal, but it’s likely that they are slightly later bloomers than Craig and Billy, so i’m happy to give them the time and support that they need to reach their potential.

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