Thursday September 24, 2020
Liverpool have plenty of young prospects coming through their Academy system including Abdi Sharif
During the 2020/21 season, Liverpool prospect Abdi Sharif will be aiming to make up for lost time.
Just like fellow 19-year-old Paul Glatzel, Sharif spent the majority of last season out with an injury picked up at the most unfortunate of times, during pre-season.Fans could be forgiven for forgetting about him after the extended absence and everything else that went on last term. But Sharif was an unused substitute on the opening weekend of this campaign as Liverpool's U23s beat Everton U23s 1-0 at The Academy, and then made his return to action as they were narrowly beaten at Derby Couty.He then made his first start since returning on Tuesday night as Liverpool U21s were beaten by Wigan Athletic.
Glatzel missed all three games with a slight injury, separate to the one which kept the German youth forward out last season, and is expected to be back soon - something much needed on the evidence of the U23s' showings so far.
Sharif's situation was discussed on the latest Academy Show on the Blood Red channel.
He suffered a serious knee injury around 12 months ago that kept him out for the entire 2019/20 campaign, but he is now back and ready to fire in the new season.
He signed a professional contract last summer, only to be ruled out for nine months less than four weeks later. This year's preparations have been significantly more successful, albeit with the Academy, rather than the first-team as was the case for some of last summer.
Sharif, though has battled back, and signed another contract extension with Liverpool in May, despite having not kicked a ball competitively in that time that had passed since his previous one thanks to his injury troubles.
That decision underlined the value that the club have placed in the teenager and the faith that they still have in his ability. This pre-season he has netted against TNS (as did Glatzel on his return to action) and also Nottingham Forest.
Sharif has been at Liverpool since the age of six, training with the club's youth setup for three years before he was officially signed, and was born in Somalia, but grew up in Toxteth.
"He always smashes all the fitness tests, he’s got great athleticism and we’ve been really focusing on that with him this season, getting him to make those forward runs," Barry Lewtas, who was his U18 manager and has now taken over at U23 level, told Goal around 18 months ago.
"We want him running in behind, using those attributes. He’s a local lad, and he’s got a bit about him! He’s a nice boy, fit as a fiddle and he can play too."
It will be for Lewtas’ U23s that Sharif is trying to impress this season, with a loan deal potentially on the cards should he impress during the first few months of the campaign.
At U18 level, he saw himself as a central midfielder long-term - the same position that his idol Steven Gerrard, who was his U18s boss, excelled in - but has since settled as more of a right-sided player.
With Jake Cain, who has now scored two goals in the opening two matches of the new campaign, and Leighton Clarkson also options for Lewtas in central midfield, out wide might be his clearest pathway to excel.
"Physically he can hit big numbers. He is a very strong runner, leggy," Gerrard once said of him."He has found himself out of the team and on the bench in recent weeks, so we are trying to push Abdi and make him more aggressive and improve him in possession. Abdi is certainly an important member of the squad moving forward."
Sharif has certainly developed a great deal since he worked with Gerrard.
Now the task is to continue his progression as fellow Youth Cup winners Clarkson and Cain have, and to an even greater extent, Neco Williams.
Luis Longstaff and Jack Bearne are the players he will have to compete with this season for a place out wide under Lewtas, but Sharif will be backing himself to prove his new manager's previous comments right.