LIVERPOOL Under-18s returned to winning ways with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Sunderland at the Academy.

Coach Steve Cooper was delighted by the manner in which his young side performed in the absence of a number of regular starters.

Under-15 right-back Corey Whelan from Ellesmere Port made an impressive under-18s debut, while there were also first starts for left-back Sam Hart and right winger Ryan Kent.

“It was a really good performance, especially considering the team we put out there,” Cooper said.

“Corey is still an under-15 and playing on the main pitch in front of the LFC TV cameras was a great experience for him.

“We knew like all the other youngsters he was ready technically and tactically, but being able to cope physically with the step up was a big thing. He did very well – as did Sam and Ryan.

“We had to change the team around as some of the lads had played in Portugal in the NextGen game. Plus, we weren’t sure what the squad would be for the under-21s game against Manchester United and then we’ve got the FA Youth Cup tie with Leeds coming up on Thursday night.

“To see a performance like that with so many younger players coming into the side and fitting in so well was very pleasing.”

Seyi Ojo, Jerome Sinclair and Daniel Trickett-Smith were all denied by Sunderland keeper Peter Burke early on before skipper Jordan Rossiter opened the scoring in the 28th minute.

The Black Cats failed to deal with Kent’s corner and Rossiter converted at the back post.

The visitors swiftly equalised courtesy of Jordan Blinco but just two minutes later Liverpool restored their lead as Sinclair fired into the roof of the net.

Just before the break it was 3-1 after Ojo picked out Cameron Brannagan, who shot beyond Burke.

In the second half Liverpool consolidated their advantage and added a fourth late on when Trickett-Smith’s sweetly-struck 25-yarder found the corner.

“We’re trying to play with a style and an identity in every game synonymous with what the first team are trying to do,” Cooper added.

“The boys played that way and created loads of chances. We missed some clear cut chances in the first half but we kept peppering their goal and got our rewards in the end.”

LIVERPOOL UNDER-18s: Fulton, Whelan, Hart, Brewitt, Heaton, Rossiter (c), Kent (Robles 81), Brannagan, Sinclair (Wilson 81), Trickett-Smith (Phillips 87), Ojo. Unused subs: Whaidron, Crump.