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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
James Crombie/INPHO Iago Aspas, Fabio Borini, Martin Kelly and Jack Dunn got the goals as Liverpool's second-string side beat Shamrock Rovers comfortably.
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Rodgers: The young Irish talent hasn't disappeared - it just needs to be nurtured
Liverpool boss feels Ireland’s best youngsters are at a disadvantage when trying to break through to English football.

BOB PAISLEY’S FINAL signing as Liverpool manager was a 19-year-old from Waterford.

Young Jim Beglin turned Paisley’s head when he lined out for Shamrock Rovers against the Reds in a Milltown friendly back in 1982.

That sealed his £20,000 move to the reigning Kings of Europe who had clinched a remarkable three European Cup titles in the previous five seasons.

Beglin went on to win both the league and FA Cup with Liverpool, adding to the club’s strong Irish affinity.

Dubliners Steve Heighway and Ronnie Whelan, along with a crop of ‘granny rule’ internationals, were at the heart of the success in the 1970s and 1980s.

That pipeline has dried up in recent years, although the 42,517 crowd in the Aviva Stadium for Wednesday’s 4-0 win against Rovers showed that support on these shores is as strong as ever.

Ireland’s best young talent can still make the breakthrough to English football’s top level, manager Brendan Rodgers said afterwards, although their task now is a lot more difficult.

“I think back then the game was obviously a lot more British-based players,” Carnlough native Rodgers said.

There’s talented players there but now the Barclays Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and you’ve over 63% foreign players.

“I think it’s the same as for the British players. It’s the opportunity. It’s getting that chance.”

Strong contingents at Everton and Hull are now pointing the way for the young Irish dreamers who want to make that leap to the Premier League.

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And Rodgers feels the key to renewed success lies in better player development at a younger age.

He explained: “The thing you get with a lot of Irish boys is that they come over and they miss home and they struggle, and then they come back and when they come back they’re ready.

“I think it’s about that education before they come over. A lot of them start their apprenticeship at 16 but even then it’s too late.

“A lot of the boys across the water begin their apprenticeship at eight and they’re coming through and by the time they get to 16, they’ve been trained technically, tactically, physically and mentally and they’re ready to step up to full-time football.

“There’s no doubt that the talent hasn’t disappeared but it’s about the professionalism and the determination to want to be a player.”

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Ibe shines as Liverpool sign off with win over Shamrock Rovers

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