The Premier League has, in recent years, seen a dramatic rise in its reliance on youth. This has seen the rise to prominence of home grown talent such as Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling to name a few. With the recent influx of emerging young talent throughout the Barclays Premier League, one player appears to have slipped under the radar – him being none other than Liverpool full-back Jack Robinson.
Robinson was born in Warrington, a unitary authority area of Cheston, England – just several miles east of Liverpool. Growing up as a Liverpool fan, it was only natural that he joined the Reds’ academy in 2002, at the tender age of 9. Progressively, he made his way through the youth ranks of Liverpool Football Club.
His footballing ability was there for all to see, impressing at the U14, U16 and U18 levels respectively. In 2010, after a series of outstanding performances for the Liverpool U18 team, Robinson was called up to the first-team and was included in the squad that travelled to Hull for Liverpool’s final game of the season at the KC Stadium.
True enough he made his debut albeit in somewhat underwhelming circumstances, coming on as a late substitute in the dying embers of a goalless draw with relegation-doomed Hull City. Robinson notably however, in making his debut, became what at the time was Liverpool’s all-time youngest player, at 16 years and 250 days of age.
His next appearance for the first-team would only come a year later, in the closing stages of the 2010/11 Premier League season – this time in much, much more intense circumstances, coming on in the 21st minute for the injured Fabio Aurelio in what was an emotionally-charged, high-tempo clash at the Emirates with title chasing Arsenal.
The youngster put in what was an exceptional performance, stopping wave after wave of attack down the Arsenal right channel, with a mixture of superb positioning and tough tackling, earning him plaudits from several respected pundits across Europe – even sparking comparisons with a certain Ashley Cole.
Robinson was duly handed his first ever-competitive start for the Reds the following week, yet again putting in a solid performance in the 5-0 demolition of Birmingham City at Anfield. This would be Robinson’s final Premier League appearance for 2 years, with the arrival of José Enrique in the summer of 2011, which would see Robinson limited to European and cup appearances for the first-team, spending the bulk of this time with the Liverpool U21s.
With first-team opportunities at Liverpool limited, Robinson was sent out on-loan to now relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers. The 19 year-old was thrown straight into the first-team frame at Molineux following an injury to first-choice left-back Stephen Ward. He has since become a regular fixture in the Wolves starting eleven, chalking up 11 appearances for Dean Saunders’ men to date, becoming somewhat of a fan-favourite with his direct and expansive style of play.
Internationally, Jack Robinson has also caught the eye, earning 12 caps for the England U19 team, 4 of those coming in the prestigious U19 European Championships held in Estonia a year a go, where he was integral in propelling the team to the semi-finals. He has since been promoted to the England U21s after impressing at U19 level, he has maintained his high-performance levels even at U21 level, putting in some top-notch shifts, consistently looking a class above the rest.
Styles, Strengths and Weaknesses
Jack Robinson has a very direct style of play, bombing forward from full-back at every opportunity, constantly running at defenders and making overlapping runs.
His remarkably direct approach coupled with his fantastic first-touch, vast amount of pace, dribbling ability, crossing ability and his knack popping up in the box and scoring the odd goal makes him a constant threat going forward.
In terms of pace, not many, even in the Premier League can match Jack Robinson, evident from his capability of tracking back and keeping stride with players who have a good few yards on him. The sheer amount of pace he possesses evident from his capability of matching Theo Walcott stride for stride in that dramatic clash between Liverpool and Arsenal at the Emirates that saw both teams finish with a goal a piece, both coming late on from stoppage time penalties.
His contribution on the pitch is not solely limited to offense, offering a great deal defensively as well –consistently showing high energy levels, great discipline and positional awareness. Robinson’s relentless, attack-minded approach is matched by his willingness to consistently track back, rarely leaving gaps or being caught out of position. The young full-back is also well-known for his willingness to get ‘stuck in’, making crunching, robust challenges without hesitation.
Overall, Jack Robinson is a player I would describe as “unrefined”, possessing all the necessary attributes required to become a top, top full-back. Something young Robinson visibly lacks is experience, displaying some very poor decision-making on the pitch, needlessly giving the ball away in some cases when simpler options are provided for him. Physically, much improvement is needed, with him easily being muscled off the ball, giving opponents the edge when challenging for balls played over the top.
With the right guidance, these shortcomings can be easily dealt with and given enough time, Robinson can without a doubt establish himself as one of the best left-backs in the country – perhaps even the continent.
With his loan spell at the West Midlands close to expiration, Jack Robinson will soon return to Liverpool to make a case for himself as the Reds’ first-choice left-back. However, with the consistently solid José Enrique firmly holding down that left full-back spot, Jack may have to look elsewhere for first-team action.
With a host of Championship clubs reported to be queuing up for Robinson’s signature and the 19 year-old keen to move on from what is effectively seen as reserve league football, it is looking highly probable that the youngster will leave the club be it on a short-term or permanent basis this summer.
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