Jordon Ibe on way to the top, reveals Joe Allen
Liverpool winger tipped for stardom after impressing in derby at Goodison
Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen believes the emergence of exciting teenaged winger Jordon Ibe is evidence the club’s continued investment in young talent will pay off.
The 19-year-old made only the second Premier League start of his career and put in a man-of-the-match performance in the 224th Merseyside derby, which finished as a goalless draw at Goodison Park.
Excluding Steven Gerrard, the Reds’ other attack-minded players in midfield and up front were Raheem Sterling (20), Philippe Coutinho (22), Alberto Moreno (22) and Jordan Henderson (24) - and even Daniel Sturridge, coming off the bench, is still only 25.
Youthful exuberance, and the pace which accompanies it, has been a factor in the team’s recent rejuvenation and Ibe’s surprise inclusion only adds to that.
Playing on the right side of midfield rather than his accustomed winger role the youngster, bought from Wycombe Wanderers three years ago after 11 first-team appearances, produced Liverpool’s best chance with a run and shot against the post with goalkeeper Joel Robles beaten.
His inclusion justified manager Brendan Rodgers’ decision to recall him from a loan spell at Derby last month and Allen believes Ibe will complement the growing band of influential young players.
“He is an incredible talent. I saw him as a 16/17-year-old a couple of years ago and I thought, ‘This guy has everything to go really far’,” he said.
“He came in and proved that and with that performance he will be staking a claim for the starting XI.
“His raw attributes - his pace and power - and his ability to beat people for pace with the ball is frightening at times.
“That, coupled with the hard work he puts in, combined with the experience he has had on loan and getting games, has helped him come back stronger.
“He always seems confident when he goes out to play. He is a great player to have in our squad. “That is what this club have been building over the last three years.
“They are still all young players and that is what is great from our point of view.
“Imagine these players developing over the next few years and what they are capable of and it is a massive thing for Liverpool and we will reap the rewards of that.”
Allen himself is looking for more pitch time after another injury-troubled season and he may just get that wish after replacing Lucas Leiva just 15 minutes into the derby.
The Brazil midfielder had been carrying a thigh problem and he could be out for a number of weeks if he has aggravated it, which would open the door for Allen. “When you are on the bench you always know there’s that chance that someone might pick up an injury or something might happen,” he added.
“From a personal point of view it was great to be involved in such a big game; at the same time you feel gutted for your team-mate who has come off injured.
“I think injuries have been an issue for me. Thankfully, I’ve never had any serious ones in my time here but my season has been broken up by minor injuries and each time it takes you a little while to get back going and back to the level you want to be at.
“It’s been frustrating but hopefully I can stay fit now and help us finish the season strongly.
“I’m confident that if I do stay fit and get myself in this team I can show what I can do.”
Liverpool host Tottenham tomorrow, a match they really need to win if they want to start making a move towards securing Champions League qualification for next season.
“We will give everything to get in that top four,” said the Wales midfielder.
“We have ground to make up and we have work to do but it starts in our next game against Spurs.
“They have picked up some points recently and had a great win against Arsenal so we will need to make sure we give everything and be on top of our game and hopefully get those three points.”