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Apr 15, 2011

Skrtel eyes bright future for young Reds

Martin Skrtel believes Liverpool's academy players have shown they can play a major role in the club's future.

Jolly: Reds leave City in ruins

Kenny Dalglish gave 18-year-old John Flanagan his senior debut when he started at right-back in the 3-0 victory over Manchester City on Monday, due to injuries to Glen Johnson and fellow academy graduate Martin Kelly.

Jay Spearing also started that match and, with Peter Gulacsi and Jack Robinson on the bench, it appears Dalglish is happy to put his faith in the youth players' abilities.

Of Flanagan's performance, Skrtel told LFC TV: "He was brilliant. He is just 18 and on the pitch he looked like an experienced player. I think he showed his best and he showed he can be a very good player.

"The young guys from the academy have already got a chance in the first team, like Martin Kelly, Jay Spearing, Flanno and Peter Gulacsi. They are still young players but they are part of the first team.

"We can see they are the future of Liverpool FC and it is on the right way. These players can be big in the future of Liverpool."

Liverpool appear unlikely to return to Europe next season having exited all three cup competitions and with a five-point gap to make up on fifth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in hand, but Skrtel is determined to beat Arsenal on Sunday to ensure they keep their hopes alive.

"It is going to be a big game, a very important game for us," he said. "We are in a race for the best position [we can reach] in the league table at the end of the season.

"We have to work hard and we try to repeat the performance we did in the game against City and we can get a good result there."

Flanagan, who could keep his place against the Gunners, has said he was delighted with his debut.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "It was such a special night for me. It's difficult to explain really but it was just brilliant to be out there.

"At first I was nervous as it was a really big game to come into in front of over 40,000 fans. It took me 10-15 minutes just to settle down.

"As the game went on I got more and more into it. I just looked to get on the ball and keep it simple. I'm just made up with the way it went. It was a good win for the team and a great performance.

"Now I've got to keep working hard and learning. When you get a chance you have to take it."

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