Wednesday 28 August 2019 20:11, UK
Liverpool have launched a stern defence after they were accused of "bullying and mentally destroying" their young striker Bobby Duncan by the player's agent.
Saif Rubie says Duncan missed Monday's U23 game against Southampton because he has suffered "deep mental issues with all the stress the club has put him under".
The 18-year-old reportedly wants to leave Liverpool but the club have rejected loan offers from Danish club FC Nordsjaelland and Serie A side Fiorentina, who are apparently Duncan's first choice.
In the statement Rubie is heavily critical of Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards and the club's hierarchy for allegedly preventing Duncan leaving, saying: "Bobby has not left his room for four days because of this and will never go back to Liverpool again and my only concern now is his mental health and well being."
In response, Liverpool released the following statement: "Liverpool Football Club is aware of and disappointed by the unattributed comments and unfounded allegations that have been made in the media regarding one of our players.
"As the interests of the player in question are not best served by either inaccurate speculation, inflammatory statements or public discourse, we will be making no further comment.
"We will, however, continue our efforts to work privately with the player to find resolution in the best interests of all involved."
Liverpool signed Duncan, the cousin of club legend Steven Gerrard, from Manchester City last year. He has featured in the main for Liverpool's U23 and U18 sides, scoring against City in the FA Youth Cup final in April as Liverpool won the trophy for the first time in 12 years.
He has yet to make a competitive appearance for the first team but did feature in pre-season, scoring in the 6-0 win at Tranmere.
Sky Sports News understands Duncan is rated by both the the Academy and first team set-ups and is held in high regard as a professional.