Danny Mills has suggested Curtis Jones is ready to step up if Georginio Wijnaldum leaves Liverpool at the end of his contract next year.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the former Leeds and England defender claimed Jones is a “stand-out talent” at Anfield.
The 19-year-old made his first start against a top-six club in the Premier League in the Reds’ vital 2-1 win over Tottenham on Wednesday night.
The England Under-21 international lined up with club captain Jordan Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield at Anfield with the Dutchman’s future up in the air.
Football Insider revealed last month the Premier League champions had launched a fresh attempt to secure Wijnaldum’s future.
However, nothing has been signed, and as things stand the 30-year-old could leave on a free next summer.
Asked by Football Insider whether the progress of Jones could ease the potential loss of Wijnaldum, Mills said: “Curtis Jones looks like a very promising good young player.
“Liverpool have got a lot of very good players in those positions. You’ve got Thiago to come into that – we’ve not really seen him as of yet. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is coming back from injury. You’ve got Henderson, Naby Keita and James Milner when he comes back – you’re not going to get rid of Milner because he’s great to have around and can play in a lot of positions.
“The Wijnaldum contract situation is not going to go away. But having seen the Liverpool youngsters a number of times Curtis Jones is certainly one of the stand-out talents and he’s proven he can step up.
“If needs be, he can play regularly for the first-team.”
Wijnaldum has been in the matchday squad of all but one of Liverpool’s 23 games this season in all competitions.
Jones has been in all of Klopp’s matchday squad’s this campaign and has featured on 16 occasions.