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Harry Wilson continues to impress, but must wait for his chance at Liverpool

Harry Wilson's superb season as captain of Liverpool's under-23s side continued on Monday with a strike in a 3-1 win against Leicester City, taking his overall goal-scoring tally to 28.

After a troubled 2015-16 campaign that featured a failed loan spell at Crewe Alexandra and long-term injury, Wilson's impressive comeback has earned him recognition at first-team and international level.

The 20-year-old made his Liverpool debut when he appeared as a substitute in the FA Cup replay at Plymouth Argyle in January and, after becoming Wales' youngest-ever player , aged 16, in 2013, he returned to Chris Coleman's squad last month for the World Cup qualifier with Republic of Ireland.

But perhaps that has not been enough for a player who has been performing consistently for over eight months.

Considering Jurgen Klopp's shortage of options at times this season due to injuries, it could appear unfortunate that Wilson has received just 25 minutes of first-team action this season, and made the matchday squad on just three occasions.

And this is all while fellow, younger academy products Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold have also burst onto the scene and played far more often for Klopp.

For Wilson, there is not much more he can do. Despite signing a long-term contract in July, sources say very early discussions have been held regarding another new deal to reward him for his progress, although any formal talks would take place in the summer.

Meanwhile, other clubs have reportedly been in touch with the player's representatives to enquire about his availability.

Harry Wilson has had a fine season as captain of Liverpool's U23 team.

Wilson had loan offers on the table in January, but he opted to stay at Liverpool, feeling he was close to a breakthrough. Rangers were reported to be among the suitors, with Liverpool's former academy director Frank McParland, then the Glasgow outfit's head of recruitment, aware of his potential.

In addition to the number of goals he has scored this season, Wilson has shown his creative side, providing six assists from various positions across Liverpool's front three.

The left-footed Wilson has mostly operated on the right wing for the U23s, who sit third in the league, but has spent time on the opposing flank and leading the frontline in a "false No. 9" role, similar that of Roberto Firmino's in Klopp's 4-3-3 system.

His versatility is not in question, but perhaps his lack of physical presence has limited his appearances at the highest level.

In order to work on his deficiencies, sources close to player say Wilson has been putting in extra work, outside of his programme at Liverpool, to improve his muscular build.

"He needs to grow into his man bones a little bit," former U23s boss Michael Beale said in December. "He's behind one or two others in terms of physical strength."

Indeed, it was Beale who handed Wilson the U23s captain's armband in the summer, with the now-Sao Paulo assistant manager wanting to raise the player's profile ahead of a crucial season in his development.

Staff at the club's Kirkby academy wanted Wilson to have "two seasons in one" to make up for the interrupted previous campaign, believing the responsibility of having the armband would bring further motivation. He missed five months of 2015-16 due to a toe injury and a metatarsal problem.

He has led teams out that have included Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Danny Ings. Training regularly with the senior side at Melwood since the turn of the year, Wilson is now used to encountering the players at the top of the game.

Wrexham-born Wilson has always been highly thought of Liverpool, ever since he joined the club as an U9 player. Klopp is now a fan of his, and Adam Lallana recently earmarked him as Liverpool's best under-the-radar prospect.

With European football practically a certainty at Anfield next season, Liverpool will undoubtedly look to the transfer market improve the quality -- and numbers -- within the squad. There is a possibility that Wilson's pathway to the first team may be blocked even further.

A carefully selected loan move to the Championship or League One may be sought if first-team opportunities appear to be limited, sources say.

For the player himself, however, his exceptional season will have done his Liverpool future and stock around the game no harm whatsoever.

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.


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