Name: Martin Kelly
Height: 6ft 3
Date of Birth: 27th April 1990
Place of Birth: Bolton
Martin Kelly sprung into the limelight of English football when he was given a surprise full debut by Rafa Benitez in the home Champions League tie against Lyon in December 2009. Many around Anfield were not so shocked by the inclusion of the 19 year old at right back in such an important game for Kelly’s star has slowly been rising over the past couple years. After graduating to Melwood from the club’s academy in the summer 2007, Kelly helped Gary Ablett’s Liverpool reserves side win the reserve league title in the 2007/2008 season, playing at centre-back and was called up to play for England’s U-20 World Cup campaign last summer.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for Kelly however; he missed the best part of two years of academy development due to a back injury. Kelly felt the setback gave him an extra motivation to succeed:
The injury has made me more determined. Having those two years out meant I missed so much from my development. I was lucky to get a chance to come to Melwood, and I think that me coming here has meant I’ve developed at least twice as quick.
His rise to the first team is an even greater achievement because of this, and his abilities no doubt shine through on a football pitch. He is a strong, tall, elegant player who can play all across the back four. He made his first team debut appearance for Liverpool in the Champions League group stage match against PSV Eindhoven in December 2008, replacing Jamie Carragher for the closing moments of the game. He was then sent on loan to Huddersfield on the last day of the Football League loan transfer window in March 2009. He played seven times for the Terriers and scored his first senior goal, scoring the winner in Huddersfield’s 3-2 win against Walsall in April last year.
Kelly was then called up for the U-20 World Cup, a tournament which was nothing short of a disaster for the England team as they failed to achieve a single win. Two weeks after returning, he was handed his full debut by Rafa Benitez against Lyon at right-back. His preferred position is at centre-back but his performance in the match showed his versatility and all round talent. Through out the match he cut out balls, tackled opponents and played in two fantastic crosses into the box for Fabio Aurelio and David Ngog, both of whom should have done better with their finishing. His game was sadly cut short when he had to be replaced on 74 minutes when he picked up a groin injury. His return to fitness will be greatly anticipated.