Liverpool v Chelsea: Which youngsters could make Carabao Cup breakthroughs?
Watch Carabao Cup tie live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm on Wednesday
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 26/09/18 10:22pm
Ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea's Carabao Cup third-round clash live on Sky Sports on Wednesday night, we pick out three top youngsters who will be hoping for opportunities in the competition this year.
Ampadu has long been regarded as a thrilling young prospect but the buzz around him has increased recently. He earned widespread plaudits for his commanding performance in Wales' 4-1 win over Ireland in the UEFA Nations League earlier this month. Then, a few days after his 18th birthday, he was handed a new five-year contract by Chelsea.
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Antonio Conte called the Exeter City academy product "the future of Chelsea" last season, and he has been described in the same terms by Maurizio Sarri, who said he was "very, very happy" to have secured him to a new long-term contract last week.
Ampadu, who joined Chelsea from Exeter last summer, is an intelligent and technically gifted central defender who can also play in midfield. He boasts maturity beyond his years, but the problem under Sarri is that opportunities have not yet been forthcoming.
He is yet to make a competitive appearance under the Italian despite impressing during pre-season, and many Chelsea fans were disappointed that he did not even make the squad for their Europa League trip to PAOK Salonika last week. Could the Carabao Cup open the door to him? He is certainly eager to impress.
"You could say there's been frustration on one hand, but at the same time I'm getting experience training with the players," he said recently. "I'm just trying to improve to get into the team. This season's plans are this season's plans and at the moment I've just to keep improving to try and get in the team. I want to show the manager what I can do."
Hudson-Odoi is another exciting Chelsea youngster pushing for first-team inclusion. The 17-year-old forward has been on the club's books since 2007, impressing in their academy and representing England at youth level.
He does not turn 18 until November but has already tasted senior action. He made his debut as a late substitute in a 3-0 win over Newcastle in the FA Cup in January and went on to make his Premier League bow against Bournemouth a few days later. Before the end of the campaign, there were further appearances against Hull and Tottenham.
Sarri confirmed the fast, skilful forward was a part of his first-team plans soon after his appointment in the summer, and his impressive performances during pre-season earned him a starting spot in the Community Shield clash with Manchester City.
"Callum has shown great quality and character and now it is up to him to keep that level," said Chelsea team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta. "I am sure if he keeps doing the things he's doing at the moment and working the way he is doing for the team, he will be very important for the team. It's something he has in his hands."
Could Jones be the next Liverpool youngster to make the step up to the senior side? Jurgen Klopp has shown he is unafraid to trust in youth, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez becoming key members of his defence in recent months, and the 17-year-old Jones has been tipped for a similarly bright having trained with the senior squad since the age of 15.
Jones certainly made a big impression on Liverpool's pre-season tour of the United States, impressing against top opposition in front of packed crowds. Klopp insists there is a "long way to go" for him to fulfil his potential but he has been impressed by his confidence and self-belief.
"Curtis is a proper Scouser," Klopp said during the summer. "I don't know if I have the right words, but he is not shy to say a few things and probably that's a surprise for one or two players! It's easy, he accepts the rules of the group, there is no doubt about that."
Klopp rates him highly in terms of his ability, too, but says his game still needs to be refined. "He is a tall boy but still very mobile, good at dribbling and stuff like that, but now we need to make sure he finds the right moment to pass the ball - and dribbling is not for dribbling, it's to change the situation in a better way and then to pass the ball," he said.
Jones is yet to make his competitive debut, but he already feels he is improving his game under Klopp's guidance. "I like to get on the ball, I like to dribble, I like to get assists and goals, but he's definitely helping me on the other side of the game, defending, tackling, getting back, helping the team," he said during pre-season. "One hundred per cent he's got me fitter, too."
He will be eager for a chance to show that improvement on the big stage soon.
Watch Liverpool v Chelsea live on Sky Sports Football HD from 7pm on Wednesday