Conor Masterson could make his senior debut for Liverpool tonight. After Joel Matip was added to the list of Liverpool's centre-back casualties along with Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez, plunging the team into a mini defensive crisis ahead of their first leg tie with Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, Jurgen Klopp is left with Dejan Lovren and Virgil Van Dijk as his only options. Masterson trained with the senior squad on Tuesday, meaning he could be drafted in as cover. Here's what we know about him.
Who is Conor Masterson?
Conor Masterson is a 19-year-old defender for Liverpool FC who originally hails from Dublin. His performances for Lucan United earned him a move to the Reds for £900k, according to Transfermarkt, signing the deal on his sixteenth birthday. He has played for the Republic of Ireland at youth level, from the U16 grade all the way up to U19, amassing 24 caps along the way. In fact, when Ireland's U17s faced England in a European Championships qualifier in 2015, he was one of our five players to watch in that game.
Where does he play?
According to Liverpool's own website, Masterson is a "commanding centre-half", although he is a versatile player. He has been known to play in midfield as a '6', using his ability to ping diagonal balls across the pitch with his right foot to good effect. Not only can he perform the role of ball-playing centre-back for Liverpool, but he is also a tall and strong presence in the middle of defence who should be well able to handle himself in the senior ranks. He has previously played more than one role in games, including in attack.
How's he coming along?
Like many of the prospects in the academy of a big Premier League club like Liverpool, it can be difficult to get many opportunities and thus hard for us to judge how they are progressing. Masterson does seem to be coming along steadily, however.
After Trent Alexander-Arnold was promoted to the senior squad last season, he was made captain of the U18s. He has been a regular feature in Liverpool's youth sides this season, making 10 appearances in Premier League 2. He played for Steven Gerrard's U19 charges 7 times during their UEFA Youth League run to the quarter-finals, and scored one goal but missed a penalty in the shootout defeat to Manchester City.
Masterson has already appeared once on a Liverpool team sheet in their crazy FA Cup tie against Exeter in January 2016, at the time calling it "an unbelievable feeling" despite not featuring in the 2-2 draw.
It's not guaranteed that the Irish youngster will even be on the bench, but he should he make an aapearance against Manchester City tonight, he will be the first Irishman to play for Liverpool in the Champions League since Robbie Keane faced PSV Eindhoven in December 2008.