'His potential is enormous': Ben Doak to get more international exposure as Scotland and Liverpool starlet shines in under-21 environment
The wide player has joined up with the international squad for Thursday’s friendly against Iceland on the back of a momentous seven days. Doak made his Liverpool debut in a Carabao Cup encounter against Derby, kept his place on the bench for the Premier League game against Southampton 24 hours after his 17th birthday, and then signed his first professional contract with the Reds. The winger has made a major impact since his summer move from Celtic, for whom he played two first-team games including a 3-0 win over Rangers. After starting off in the under-18s, Doak earned appearances in Premier League 2 and the Papa John’s Trophy for the under-21s and has notched four goals and four assists in the UEFA Youth League.
Gemmill, whose side will be on show at a free-to-attend friendly at Fir Park, said: “It’s been a brilliant year for him, hasn’t it? I can remember watching him play for the under-17s earlier in this calendar year, and then obviously as a staff we decided to fast-track him to the under-21 level, to skip the under-19 level. It’s great to see that his club are also doing that too. Hopefully we have played a small part in that, he played for the under-21s against Northern Ireland last month and played well and has gone back to his club and had a really exciting couple of weeks there. We will give him another opportunity on Thursday to show people what he is capable of.
“I think everyone can see the potential, how he can influence games. His potential is enormous. But I would also add there are many hurdles to get over for him and he has to keep pushing, and his mentality and attitude have to be correct. Right now it is but he has to continue and that’s the challenge. His club will play a huge role in that but we have to add to it too. So there is a big responsibility on us to give him an extra push and that extra opportunity. We did it with Billy Gilmour, we took him to Toulon. I think Billy was 16 and he won young player of the tournament.”
Gilmour is now an established senior international and Gemmill has seen another player promoted to Steve Clarke’s squad in the past week when Doak’s Liverpool team-mate Calvin Ramsay was named in the travelling party for Wednesday’s friendly against Turkey. Gemmill said: “It’s great to show the pathway is there and it also proves there is a lot of really good work going on at the clubs. We play a very small part but it is a very important part.”
Gemmill has lost seven players from his original squad – Josh Doig, Kieron Bowie, Elliot Anderson, Leon King, Cole McKinnon, Stuart McKinstry and Josh Reid. McKinstry’s Motherwell team-mate Max Johnston has been called up for the Fir Park clash along with Rangers defender Robbie Fraser and Norwich forward Tom Dickson-Peters.