Liverpool's Lucas Leiva on the younger players who have impressed him so far this season

Lucas says there have been a few standout players among the youngsters who have been given the opportunity to impress.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has been impressed by the recent performances of younger players, including those who played in the 2-2 draw with Exeter City on Friday night in the FA Cup.

Jurgen Klopp fielded a much changed side at St James' Park with some of the players on the fringes of the first team getting their opportunity to show they had a future at the club, while the Reds also recalled several players back from loan spells in the lower leagues.

Lucas seemed particularly impressed with players that have already featured for the Reds in League Cup action this season - helping them progress as far as the semi-finals so far.

The Brazilian told the official Liverpool website: "I think there are a few [standouts] to be honest. Probably the ones that have been playing more and playing really well.

"Joao [Teixeira], he had a very good game against Bournemouth and Exeter; Cameron [Brannagan], I think he’s a very good footballer, he’s not afraid to tackle and technically he’s very good; both full-backs, Brad [Smith] and Connor [Randall], they have been very good.

"All of them have been training here and getting their chances and the future is very bright for them."

Both Randall and Smith are likely to get more opportunities going forward given the current shortage in the full-back roles between now and the end of the season. There are inevitably going to be times when Klopp will want to give either Nathaniel Clyne or Alberto Moreno a breather even if it's just a short spell towards the end of a game. 

Some may question whether Teixeira can be classed as a younger player as, at 23, he is the same age as Philippe Coutinho but has shown he has some ability about him, but he could do with some regular game time under his belt. 

Brannagan may find opportunities a little hard to come by for the rest of the season given that Liverpool do have several central midfield options but the 19-year-old has been around the first team for much of the season and certainly looks as if he has a fair bit of ability about him but, like with all young players, one does wonder if he will truly make the grade at Anfield. 

But if they keep on impressing senior professionals in the squad during training, as well as the manager, then they are likely to get more first team opportunities.

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