Three stars from Aston Villa are absent from training ahead of ………………..

manager of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on August 30, 2023 in Kirkby, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

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It has been a contrasting few days for two young Liverpool centre-backs. And their experiences underline the challenge facing players emerging from the Academy under Jurgen Klopp.

On Sunday, Jarell Quansah made a sizeable step forward in his burgeoning career when handed a surprise first-team debut on Sunday, replacing Joel Matip for the 10-man Reds with 77 minutes gone as they trailed 1-0 at Newcastle United.

Given Klopp’s side ultimately secured a remarkable 2-1 victory on one of the great afternoons of his reign, the youngster can consider his initial taste of senior top-flight football a huge success.

Two days later, another 20-year-old Liverpool defender was in the news. But rather than further development with Klopp’s squad, Billy Koumetio will instead spend the season back in his native France with Ligue 2 newcomers USL Dunkerque.

There are similarities between the manner in which the pair made their breakthrough at Liverpool, both having impressed Klopp during the pre-season programme and given the opportunity to maintain that momentum during the subsequent campaign.

For Koumetio, that came three years ago when, after the coronavirus lockdown, he caught the eye as a 17-year-old to such a degree he was given the nickname “Billy the Kid” by the Reds boss. It led to the defender making his senior debut in the Champions League group stage dead rubber at FC Midtjylland when replacing emergency centre-back Fabinho at half-time.

Liverpool handed midfield injury boost but three stars not seen in training ahead of Aston Villa

Liverpool have been handed an injury boost after Curtis Jones returned to full training on Wednesday.

And the Reds have also been buoyed by the fact Joel Matip was able to train without issue ahead of Sunday’s visit from Aston Villa.

Jones has missed the last two games against Bournemouth and Newcastle with an ankle complaint but was back at work with his colleagues at the AXA Training Centre on Wednesday.

It means the England Under-21 international could be cleared for a comeback on Sunday afternoon as the Reds look to sign off for the international break by claiming a third straight Premier League victory.

Matip, who started his first game of the season in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Newcastle following an injury to Ibrahima Konate, was withdrawn in the second half for Premier League debutant Jarell Quansah, leading to suggestions the defensive ranks would further be depleted with captain Virgil van Dijk suspended for the weekend.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed after the game that the switch was merely a precaution, however, which has been backed up by Matip’s inclusion in Wednesday’s session at the Kirkby complex. The centre-back is almost certain to line up next to Joe Gomez when Villa visit Anfield.

Konate, meanwhile, appeared to sit out the training session as he bids to get back fit after an injury in the 3-1 victory against Bournemouth on August 19. Klopp was hopeful of a return last week but the Frenchman may be forced to wait until after the international break if his situation doesn’t improve in the coming days.

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