Saturday 23 February 2019

Bench duty for Conor a surreal experience as Irish kid makes waves

Liverpool’s young
Irish defender Conor
Masterson Photo: Getty
EURO DREAM: Liverpool’s young Irish defender Conor Masterson Photo: Getty

Irish youngster Conor Masterson says he's being encouraged by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in his bid to make the grade at Anfield.

The Celbridge lad has been shunted up the ladder at Liverpool in the last week due to a defensive injury crisis and he was on the bench for their Champions League battle with Manchester City as well as Saturday's Premier League meeting with Everton.

Masterson didn't get on the field so the last Irish player to make an appearance for the Reds was Robbie Keane back in 2008.

But the 19-year-old is pleased with his progress in the last few days.

"Jurgen has been encouraging me, so I just want to keep going," he told Newstalk.

"I've been training with the first team for the past few days and hopefully I can keep doing that and enjoying it.

"It's been unbelievable. Everybody is just buzzing for me and I'm glad I'm doing everybody proud.

"It's been a surreal experience. I'm just thankful to Jurgen for giving me the chance and hopefully I'll keep experiencing things like this again.

"Obviously, every kid's dream is to get on the pitch but you just have to keep working hard and hopefully my chance will come."

He did get to swap shirts with Seamus Coleman after the Merseyside derby ended in a 0-0 draw.

"I spoke to Seamus, I actually got his shirt at the end of the game. That was a nice little touch from him," he said.

"Seamus is a top pro, it's just great to see him doing well at such a high level."

Masterson got the nod to take a place on the bench for that midweek win over City in the Champions League.

"To be honest at the start of the game I was quite nervous. At the start of the game I was a bit like: 'woah, this is unbelievable," Masterson said.

"But as the game went on - watching the game - I got more relaxed and I wanted to get on. Obviously it was a big occasion but gladly the guys came through the game.

"I like to come across confident, it's a good thing to have. That's just the way I am, I'm just being myself and I think that's key to success.

"I have to thank Lucan United and everybody there who got me here."

Klopp says he plans to give Masterson his debut when the time is right.

"You have the use the next generation, they are there, really talented boys, and I'm always ready for using them but in the right games in the right moment," Klopp said.

Masterson's last involvement with the national team was at U19 level last year, when the side missed out on qualification for the European Championship finals.

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