Zimbabwe wonder kid edges closer to Liverpool breakthrough

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Isaac Mabaya

England-born Zimbabwean starlet Isaac Mabaya has edged closer toward realising his deal of breaking into the first team at English Premier League giants Liverpool after being included in the matchday squad for the FA Cup fifth round time against Shrewsbury Town on Sunday.

Mabaya was named among the substitutes at Anfield as Liverpool came from a goal down to beat the League One side.

Seventeen-year-old Kaide Gordon became Liverpool’s youngest FA Cup goalscorer as he set Jurgen Klopp’s side on the way to a comfortable 4-1 third-round victory at home to Shrewsbury.

The League One visitors had threatened an upset when, having had just 15 per cent possession, they took a 27th-minute lead through Daniel Udoh.

However, Gordon, who at 17 years and 96 days also became Liverpool’s second-youngest all-time goal scorer before a brace by Fabinho and a Roberto Firmino goal sealed a comfortable victory for Liverpool.

While Gordon was hogging all the limelight after becoming Liverpool’s youngest goal scorer it was also a memorable night for his teammate Mabaya despite being an unused substitute.

Born in Preston with Zimbabwean heritage, Mabaya joined Liverpool’s youth ranks as a six-year-old, and due to injury problems, his progress to the fringes of the first team is still in its infancy.

But having stepped up from the U16s to the U18s last season, the 17-year-old has been making his mark under Bridge-Wilkinson this time around.

Though he is a natural midfielder, Mabaya has been used as a right-back on a number of occasions this season, and his ability to drive past players with pace and power has made him a standout.

It is this versatility that has saw Vitor Matos recommend Mabaya to the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, after both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Neco Williams were ruled out for the FA Cup tie.

Mabaya signed his first professional contract with the club in September, and is tipped for big things in the years ahead.

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