A Liverpool campaign of just 98 minutes - surely former target Herbie Kane would have been better off at Portsmouth

It was a name that got plenty of supporters excited over the summer.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 12:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 7:36 pm

When The News revealed Pompey were monitoring a loan move for Liverpool’s Herbie Kane, it certainly whet the appetite of the Fratton faithful.

During the 2018-19 campaign, the midfielder enjoyed a superb spell on loan at Doncaster.

Despite never previously experiencing senior football in his fledgling career, Kane thrived at the Keepmoat Stadium.

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He scored seven goals in 49 appearances as Donny suffered League One play-off semi-final heartbreak at the hands of eventually-promoted Charlton.

The Reds initially made the youngster available for loan again, keen to get him more first-team experience and help his promising progress.

After the Premier League and Championship transfer deadline passed in the summer, it sparked the interest of Pompey along with Sunderland and Coventry.

A player of his ilk would have bolstered any sides with designs on going up.

Herbie Kane battles Ahmed El Mohamady for the ball during Liverpool's 5-0 loss to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

But Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had a change of heart – and decided to keep Kane for their Carabao Cup campaign.

Last night, the current Premier League leaders exited the competition at the hands of Aston Villa at the quarter-finals stage.

With Klopp’s squad away for the Club World Cup in Qatar, the European champions’ starting XI at Villa Park was made up of their under-23 group. Unsurprisingly, they fell to a 5-0 loss.

It would have been great experience for Kane, no doubt, but he'd faced top-flight opposition for Doncaster in a 2-0 FA Cup loss to Crystal Palace last term.

And now it could mean he features for just 98 senior minutes for Liverpool this term.

The Bristol-born ace was handed his debut in the third round against MK Dons in September.

Yet he came on in the 82nd minute, replacing Portsmouth-born Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when the tie was already wrapped up.

Coming up against League One opposition was hardly new to him, either.

In the next stage against Arsenal, Kane was left on the bench for the penalty shootout win.

And while he completed a full game against Villa on Tuesday night, it might be his last run out for Klopp’s side for some time.

Kane has been registered to feature for Liverpool in both the Premier League and Champions League this term.

However, he's nowhere near dislodging Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, James Milner and Adam Lallana in the engine-room pecking order.

And with Liverpool meeting bitter-rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round, it’d be fair to say it’s highly improbable he’ll be involved in the Merseyside derby on January 5.

Instead, he’ll continue to be confined to under-23s football, playing in front of sparsely-populated crowds. So far, he’s bagged two goals in eight games.

Had Kane been permitted to move to Pompey, there's every chance he’d be a prominent player who’d be garnering more valuable first-team minutes.

With no disrespect to Doncaster at all, he’d have been at a club where there’s significantly more pressure to succeed.

And while the Blues are relatively well stocked in central midfield, it’s an area that has lacked energy at times.

Tom Naylor’s the midfield general, with his remit to screen the back four.

Next to him for the majority of the campaign has been Ben Close – someone with passing and goalscoring prowess but not as tenacious defensively.

An overriding opinion was that he and Ross McCrorie – who's yet to hit the heights many expected of him when moving from Rangers on a season-long loan in the summer – were too easily bypassed during Saturday’s miserable 4-1 loss to Accrington.

Then Andy Cannon continues to be out of favour, not featuring in a league game since clambering off the bench in the 1-0 loss at AFC Wimbledon two months ago tomorrow, while Bryn Morris’ abdomen injury has meant he's not made one appearance.

Perhaps when the transfer window reopens next month, Jackett will renew his interest in Kane.

But you still can’t help think it would’ve been more beneficial for him to hone his craft at Fratton Park from the start of the campaign than to have remained at Anfield given how things have unfolded.