Scotland and Liverpool star Tom Clayton on Steven Gerrard influence, possible loan move and Andy Robertson inspiration

In Tom Clayton, Scot Gemmill has someone in his Scotland Under-21 squad who has learned and trained with the best and been labelled a “leader” by his Liverpool Under-23 boss Barry Lewtas.

Tom Clayton in action for Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Tom Clayton in action for Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The 21-year-old qualifies for Scotland through his gran and is a regular captain for the Premier League 2 side, whether it is marshalling the defence or patrolling the midfield.

He is “a really important player”, according to boss Lewtas who sung his praises earlier in the campaign, talking up his maturity, versatility, consistency and quality, while noting how he helps the development of team-mates.

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For the player, he looks up to two stars who are very familiar to Scottish football fans having trained with them for the first-team under the watchful eye of Jurgen Klopp.

“On the occasions I have got up there, it is unbelievable,” he said, ahead of facing Kazakhstan in a European Under 21 Championship qualifier at Tannadice on Friday.

“You just need to look at them for five minutes and you’ll learn so much about how they train and apply themselves.

"Andy Robertson definitely is one, Virgil [van Dijk] is another — just the way he drives the session. He is like a coach on the pitch during the session.

"Those are guys you can look to and say: ‘I’ll take a lot from that’.”

Tom Clayton was managed by Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

On Robertson, he said: “At first, you just see him running — he is really intense in his running and you don’t want to be left behind, with him out on his own.

"But he is vocal too. He is not afraid to speak out, encourage you and tell you if you have done something wrong.

"There is definitely a step up from the U23s to first-team and there is going to be a jump in level, but he will always encourage you and help you in any way possible.”

Gerrard influence

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A key figure in Clayton’s career so far has been Steven Gerrard who handed him his debut at under-18 level.

For the player, he can see him becoming a Liverpool manager “happening” and finds it no “surprise” that he is wanted by Aston Villa.

"I was a first year scholar when I found out Steven [Gerrard] was going to be our manager,” he said.

"He brought a real buzz to the place and he had a lot of belief in me. He gave me a lot of confidence and I can’t speak highly enough of him.

“Steven Gerrard is a legend but I don’t think you realise how big he is until you go places with him. On tour, you see the attention he gets and you think ‘wow, this guy is special’.

"He has that special aura around the place. When he speaks, you listen.”

He added: “He is hands-on with a lot of players. Steven’s pedigree is second-to-none and he can help you, no matter what position you play. Centre-backs; full-backs; wide players — his overall knowledge of the game is unbelievable.”

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Clayton signed a contract extension in April but is yet to make a first-team appearance for Liverpool and has revealed a loan deal appeals to him to gain that experience.

"Definitely," he said. “That is something that is on my mind. We’ll need to see what happens and what the club has in mind.

"It’s not only up to me. There are other people involved.”

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