BIRKENHEAD, England -- Liverpool under-23s manager Neil Critchley has told ESPN FC that Danny Ward must remain patient as the goalkeeper searches for first-team opportunities at Anfield.
Ward, 24, spent last season on loan at Huddersfield Town, helping them achieve promotion to the Premier League, but he has only made one appearance for Liverpool since returning from his successful stay at the Terriers.
The Wales international played for Critchley's U23s on Tuesday night, saving a penalty in Liverpool's 1-0 loss to Sparta Prague in the Premier League International Cup.
"I don't think his development as a goalkeeper is unusual for a young goalkeeper," Critchley told ESPN FC. "He's still young -- you've got to remember that.
"He's got competition at Melwood, but he'd expect to have that. Danny believes in himself and he's a fighter, so I'm sure he'll keep performing and training like he is to give the manager something to think about.
"He's brilliant. He's a big character, Danny -- a really good character. I think he's matured so much since I've known him. He's great for the younger defenders to play with -- he talks them through the game.
"He made a great penalty save for us as well, which is not surprising considering he's used to doing that at Wembley. Hopefully he feels the benefit of that game. He wanted to play tonight, which is great for him."
Ward finds himself as the third-choice goalkeeper at Liverpool, behind Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius in Jurgen Klopp's pecking order.
Critchley says Ward had no issues dropping down to youth level and wanted the chance to earn some much-needed game-time.
"I spoke to Danny before the game and he was eager to play and get games," Critchley added. "Hopefully now he feels the benefit of that. We're here to facilitate for the first-team players and we're delighted Danny has come down and helped us. Hopefully we've helped him."