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Thursday 27 February 2014

Barclays U21s: Playing at Anfield 'a dream' for Jones

Liverpool U21s defender Lloyd Jones relishes chance to take on Wolves at the legendary stadium

  • Liverpool's Lloyd Jones said it would be 'a dream' to play for the first-team at Anfield

  • The defender was delighted with a clean sheet as Liverpool earned a 1-0 win over Stoke

  • Stoke's James Alabi was 'probably the strongest striker' Jones has faced this season

  • Craig Noone, Sam Gallagher, Yannick Bolasie & Dan Gosling also graduated from Plymouth

Liverpool Under-21s centre-back Lloyd Jones is relishing the prospect of living his dream of playing at Anfield as the Reds continue their pursuit of top spot in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at the club's first-team stadium this evening.

The 18-year-old, who has represented Wales at Under-17 and Under-18 levels, has been an integral part of the Liverpool side who have won eight of their 12 matches in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League this season. They lie six points adrift of the leaders Fulham, having played three matches fewer, and Jones is hoping that facing Wolves at Anfield will inspire him and his team-mates to further success.

"As a little kid I used to support them so it would be a dream to play at Anfield"
Liverpool's Lloyd Jones

"It is always an honour to play at Anfield, and that is where you want to be playing, so I'm looking forward to it and the team are, too," Jones told Liverpool FC TV. "As a little kid I used to support them so it would be a dream to play at Anfield.”

Jones signed for Liverpool in May 2012 from the Plymouth Argyle academy that produced current Barclays Premier League stars such as Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie, Cardiff City midfielder Craig Noone and Southampton striker Sam Gallagher. The 6ft 3in defender is determined to follow in their footsteps and play at the top level of English club football.

The Liverpool Under-21s, managed by Alex Inglethorpe, moved up to fifth when they earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium last Friday. Jones played a key role in nullifying the threat of powerful Stoke striker James Alabi, who rattled the bar as the Potters pushed the Reds all the way.

Reflecting on his battle with Alabi, Jones said: "He was a very big presence – probably the strongest striker I have played against this season. He's a very powerful lad but there were no goals, so that was the most important thing.

"It was a very big win. Stoke are a good side, they pressed us well and didn't let us play out. We were very resilient and didn't concede, and Cameron Brannagan managed to get us a goal.”

Liverpool will hope such defensive strength will form the platform for a third consecutive league victory when they entertain Wolves, who are 20th in the table. Despite their opponents' lowly position, Jones is not expecting an easy ride on Thursday.

"They may bring down some first-team [players] so they may have a strong side on the day, or they may bring their normal side, but I am sure we will adapt to whoever's playing," he said.

Liverpool would go top if they win their matches in hand on Fulham and Jones admits that winning the title is the ambition of the team, even if Inglethorpe plays down their chances. Last season the Reds were knocked out in the semi-finals during the end-of-season play-off by the eventual winners Manchester United.

This season whoever tops the league at the end will be champions and for that to be Liverpool, Jones believes that the team need to avoid looking too far ahead.

"Everyone in the team wants to win the title, including Alex, but we've just got to keep winning games and playing well," he said. "That's the most important thing."

Supporters are welcome to go to Anfield to watch the match from the Kop Stand with tickets on sale on the evening. Adult tickets are priced at £5, concessions £1 and £3 for disabled and ambulant fans.

Barclays U21 Premier League fixtures

Thursday 27 February
Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 7pm, Anfield

Friday 28 February
Stoke City v Fulham, 2pm, Clayton Wood
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur, 7:30pm, Staplewood

Sunday 2 March
West Bromwich Albion v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2pm, The Hawthorns

Monday 3 March
Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United, 7pm, Ewood Park
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa, 7pm, Riverside Stadium
Bolton Wanderers v Everton, 7pm, Reebok Stadium
Liverpool v Reading, 7pm, Langtree Park
Arsenal v Chelsea, 7:05pm, Meadow Park

Find out the full Barclays U21 Premier League fixture list here and view the table here.

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

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Key Points

  • Liverpool's Lloyd Jones speaks to LFC TV ahead of their Barclays U21 Premier League clash with Wolves at Anfield on Thursday
  • The defender says it's 'a dream' to play at the club's historical first-team stadium
  • Jones believes his Liverpool side can win the Barclays U21 Premier League title