Virgil van Dijk singles out inexperienced stars for praise after semi-final win

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk hailed the performances of young defensive duo Jarell Quansah and Conor Bradley as the Reds progressed to the Carabao Cup final on Wednesday night.

Jurgen Klopp's side could only draw with Fulham in the semi-final second leg at Craven Cottage, but advanced 3-2 on aggregate.

The manager has regularly used England's second domestic cup competition to give opportunities to young talents, while the average age of the starting XI on Wednesday night was just 24 years and 194 days – the youngest lineup in a semi-final since the 2000/01 season, as noted by Opta editor Michael Reid.

Quansah and Bradley were two of the Reds' youngest and most inexperienced stars on show, but impressed on the right-hand side of the defence to keep Fulham at bay.

'Only the beginning'

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Van Dijk praised the duo, who have just 28 senior Liverpool appearances in total between them.

“Obviously the right-hand side was not maybe the most experienced side today, but they did very well – I think the whole season already,” Van Dijk said.

“I’m proud of these guys. It’s only the beginning for them and they must feel it that way as well.

“But to be going to the final with this performance is a very good thing and only shows what kind of progress they made. Hopefully they can keep going.”

Meanwhile, Quansah spoke of a 'special' night, after reaching his first final.

“It is special, unbelievable,” he said when asked his feelings.

Of the performance he added: “It’s all about rhythm, you have to keep playing. I felt a little bit rusty out there tonight, I’ve not played in a few weeks, but it’s all about playing games.

“Doing it with Conor [Bradley] is special for me as well, because I’ve been playing with him for almost 10 years now. Sharing a pitch with him out here tonight was a special feeling.”

Liverpool take on Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, 25 February.

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