Neco Williams saw his full Premier League debut for Liverpool last just 45 minutes against Brighton, but Trent Alexander-Arnold believes his fellow Anfield academy graduate has “the potential to be a world-class player”.
Having made quite the impression off the bench in recent weeks, the highly-rated teenage defender was handed a starting berth by Jurgen Klopp for the trip to the Amex Stadium.
Williams was moved away from his favoured right-back berth, but was expected to have little problem covering for Andy Robertson on the left of Liverpool’s back four.
He offered glimpses of the potential that has carried him to this point, with plenty to admire in his game when heading forward.
The Welshman was, however, to suffer the odd nervy moment when pushed onto the back foot, with a yellow card collected in his efforts to contain the threat posed down Brighton’s right flank.
Klopp opted not to run the risk of seeing the 19-year-old sent off, with Robertson introduced at the interval in a 3-1 victory over the Seagulls.
The Reds boss said afterwards of his decision to replace Williams: “I know football is like this. If you take a player off after 45 minutes then everybody thinks it’s not good for the player but actually I don’t care about this it was just that he had a yellow card and the situation on that side was that we didn’t protect him well enough.
“There was one or two times that they [Brighton] could really go through there so Neco it was his first professional game I cannot tell him don’t do a challenge anymore so that was the reason, the only reason.”
A humbling experience will have taught Williams many important lessons, with Alexander-Arnold expecting his fellow youngster to unlock his full potential in time.
The England international told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s his Premier League debut, it’s his first start, so it’s something he’ll never forget.
“It’s obviously not gone the way that he wanted it to, but he’s a young lad and he’ll learn from it.
“He’s shown that mentality over the last 12 months, so as players and the manager we won’t have any concerns about the way he’s performed.
“He’s a young lad, he needs to make mistakes to learn from them, so he’ll learn from then and progress.
“He has shown signs of being a really, really talented player. With the right attitude, which he’s got, he has got the potential to be a world-class player.”