JOHN FLANAGAN is determined to build on his impressive debut for Liverpool.
The 18-year-old right-back from Childwall enjoyed a night to remember at Anfield on Monday as he shone in the 3-0 victory over Manchester City.
Flanagan, who is expected to keep his place for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal, wants to reproduce that form on a regular basis.
“It was such a special night for me,” he said. “It’s difficult to explain really but it was just brilliant to be out there.
“At first I was nervous as it was a really big game to come into in front of over 40,000. It took me 10 to 15 minutes just to settle down. As the game went on I got more and more into it. I just looked to get on the ball and keep it simple.
“I had Jamie Carragher always telling me what to do and making sure I was alert to everything. Dirk Kuyt in front of me was also a big help. He works so hard and always tracks back.
“I’m just made up with the way it went. It was a good win for the team and a great performance.
“Now I’ve got to keep working hard and learning. When you get a chance you have to take it.”
Flanagan, who was shocked when he learned he was starting two hours before kick-off, says he owes a huge debt of gratitude to manager Kenny Dalglish.
Not only for handing him his first team debut but also for the role the Scot has played in his development at the Kirkby Academy over the past two years.
“We had a meeting about quarter to six and when I heard my name read out it came out of the blue to be honest,” said Flanagan, whose father, John Snr, used to clean Dalglish’s boots during his days as a trainee at Anfield.
“Kenny helped me a lot before the game and gave me loads of advice. Kenny has been a big help to me and the other young players.
“It helps us just the fact that we already know him well from the Academy because it means that he knows us well too.
“It gives all the young players a boost because we all know that Kenny is looking at us and is willing to give us our chance so that gives us confidence.”
Fellow Academy graduates Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing have also starred in the senior side this season and Jamie Carragher believes Flanagan’s “outstanding” debut will inspire other youngsters coming through.
Jack Robinson was on the bench on Monday, while the likes of Conor Coady and Raheem Sterling have also been involved with the first team squad under Dalglish.
“John was outstanding,” Carragher said.
“I’m delighted for him and I think it gives the whole club a lift when you see a local lad come through – the supporters love it.”
“I think at the Academy it gives all of them a lift. It shows the young lads there that it can be done.
“There’s a bit of competition now between him and Kelly. It’s great for everyone really that you’ve got two local lads like that coming through.
“To be honest there’s a few more down there so it’s up to them to take their chance. Flano’s done that but I’m pretty confident that there are more down there.”