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Liverpool appoint Gary O’Neil as new Under-23 assistant coach

The former midfielder received a recommendation for the job from sporting director Michael Edwards having worked together at Portsmouth

Liverpool have appointed Gary O’Neil as assistant manager of their Under-23 side.

The former Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and West Ham midfielder will work under Barry Lewtas, having received a personal recommendation from Reds sporting director Michael Edwards.

Edwards worked with O’Neil during his time at Portsmouth, and the pair have kept in touch since. It is felt that the 37-year-old, who has been without a club since leaving Bolton last year, will bring a wealth of experience from a 19-year professional career.

O’Neil has worked as a pundit for the likes of Sky Sports and talkSPORT, but has made no secret of his desire to move into coaching having completed his UEFA Pro Licence.

Liverpool’s youngsters have already returned to their Academy in Kirkby to begin pre-season training, so O’Neil will get to work straight away, with a number of behind-closed-doors friendly matches already scheduled for later this month.

Liverpool made the decision earlier this summer to promote the highly-rated Lewtas from his role as U18s boss, where he had led the club to success in the FA Youth Cup in 2019. He replaced Neil Critchley as U23 manager, with Critchley having left the Reds in February to take over as manager of League One outfit Blackpool.

The U23 group is expected to be a highly-talented one this season. Though the likes of Neco Williams and Curtis Jones are now considered first-teamers, they are likely to feature under Lewtas and O’Neil, along with the gifted Harvey Elliott.

Gary O

Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever, the young Dutch defenders, will also be involved, although Hoever in particular is attracting loan interest from the Championship.

Liverpool will also have Paul Glatzel, who captained that FA Youth Cup-winning side, available after a serious knee injury, while the likes of Jake Cain, Leighton Clarkson and Caoimhin Kelleher will all look to continue their development having trained regularly at Melwood over the past 12 months.

Speaking following his appointment, O’Neil said: “I’m really excited. I’ve been desperate to get going.

“It’s been going on for a little while and obviously with the break and the Academy having to take an even longer break than the first team, I’ve had to wait a little while, but now it’s finally come around and I’m really excited and can’t wait to get going.”

Regarding working with Lewtas, he added: “Barry is great. He has got a wealth of experience of working with the boys. 

“Obviously he’s come through a lot of the age groups with the lads as well so he knows them very well. I’m getting to see them with a fresh set of eyes which can be useful as well but Barry offers a wealth of experience, while obviously I’m new into coaching.

“I think as a team me and Barry will work very well and there’s some fantastic players to work with. For me to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group of young players at such an early part of my coaching career I feel very privileged.”

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