Curtis Jones’ progression this season has not gone unnoticed, recently cementing himself as a starter in a Liverpool midfield with significant competition.

Doubts had previously been raised as to whether Liverpool’s Academy product had a long-term future at the club. But this season many feel as if Jones has made the step up to be a justified starter at Anfield.

Former Liverpool Academy coach, Anthony Godfrey, spent 12 years with the Reds, overseeing the development of several first-team regulars including Jones and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Godfrey, who worked with Jones in the  U16’s alongside Barry Lewtas, reflected on his time with the midfielder, telling MerseySportLive: “From 14 onwards Curtis just took his game to higher levels. It was a decent age group that he was in. But from 14-16, when he’d had his major growth spurt, you could see where Curtis was developing.”

Joining the Academy aged nine, the Liverpool midfielder’s potential was evident from a young age, ultimately rewarded with his first team debut in January 2019.

Godfrey added: “The age group was really good for Curtis, because there was a lot of tough and competitive players.

“When you think about the type of player Curtis is, he needs that for his game. Especially as he’s in possession so much. He likes to be on the ball, so he needed that kind of challenge where you knew the players were very highly competitive day in day out.

“The training sessions that Lewtas put on were very detailed, high tempo, and to the structure that Liverpool were looking for in a first team type of player.”

Jones was a notable member of the U18 side Steven Gerrard took charge of for the 2017/18 season, with Godfrey highlighting the impact the former Liverpool captain had on the progression of the now 23-year-old.

“Barry Lewtas was a big influence on him from a coaching point of view. But then Steven Gerrard brought a different type of presence that I thought was truly needed for Curtis,” he said.

“For the mentality part of the game, the social part of the game, the obsession of the game. Those things that can easily go amiss in U18’s football, especially for a player.”

In progressing through the Academy, Jones played little U21 football, with his standout talent allowing him to make the huge step up from the U18’s.

Godfrey added: “I wouldn’t even say Curtis had one full season with the U21’s. It was almost like he had his U18’s football played, followed by a handful of U21’s, and then straight in with the first team from 18 onwards.”

Jones made history in 2019 becoming Liverpool’s youngest ever captain at just 19 years old in an FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town.

Unlike many young Academy products, the midfielder did not go out on loan, which Godfrey highlights as one of the key reasons behind his progress to the first team.

“The gap from the U18’s to the first team, in terms of the quality Liverpool had when Curtis tried to break into the team, was absolutely huge. Curtis didn’t go out on loan, which is great for so many, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

“The type of player that Curtis is, he was going to really need to understand the roles and the profiles of playing in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield. A player like him needs to be at the training ground as long as possible to learn off the best players through having the time and patience to understand and develop his game.

“Curtis not going out on loan was probably one of the best things for him so he could stick around to learn from the quality that was on hand.”

But it wasn’t always an easy ride for Jones. The young midfielder has been no stranger to criticism over recent years as to whether he offers enough to be a regular starter at the club.

But Godfrey believes that Academy products at Liverpool can be prone to extra scrutiny, saying: “Some people can jump to conclusions too quickly with homegrown players because of all the quality we’ve had in the past with freak players like Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Gerrard.

“A lot of supporters expect players from our Academy to be showing something after just 10-20 games, and that’s not always the case. They’ve got to take time and I think that’s happened with Curtis. He’s needed time with the type of player that he is.

“We’re seeing the work rate and mentality part of his game starting to back up his talent. As Academy coaches who’ve known Curtis through his youth journey, there is no surprise from us when does certain things.

“I think this season he’s taken his game to another level.”

After a season of so many positives, Jones has unfortunately been ruled out of Sunday’s trip to Wembley for the Carabao Cup Final against Chelsea after suffering a bone ligament injury in Liverpool’s 4-1 win at Brentford.

Godfrey added: “It’s an absolute shame what happened at Brentford because he was probably the most in form player in a red shirt over the past few months. There was absolutely no doubt that he was on for an England call up.”

The Liverpool midfielder will hope that he can maintain the form he’s shown this season when returning from injury, as the Reds continue to challenge on four fronts in Klopp’s final few months at the club.

Finished Godfrey: “It’s just a shame that this injury has come when it’s come. Touch wood he can come back as quickly as possible and hit the ground running again.”