Belfast Telegraph

Ambitious Solanke relishing the opportunity to write his name in Pool folklore

By Mark Critchley

Dominic Solanke is already dreaming of scoring the winner in Saturday's Champions League final, fresh from hitting his first Liverpool goal on the final day of the domestic season.

The 20-year-old striker has endured a challenging first year at Anfield, having moved when his contract expired at boyhood club Chelsea last summer.

Solanke was named the player of the tournament at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup after scoring four goals for Paul Simpson's triumphant England side.

Yet the Reading-born youngster was made to wait 680 minutes to break his duck at his new club, scoring Liverpool's third in a 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion when the Reds wrapped up their Premier League programme.

Solanke played from the off against Brighton but is likely to have to make do with a place on the substitutes' bench in Kiev, with Liverpool's first-choice front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino expected to start against Real Madrid.

Nevertheless, the England youth international is eager to be given another chance to impress against the Spaniards and if one comes, he's determined that he'll take it.

"It's always nice to get your first goal," he said of his goal against Brighton.

"I had to wait a bit longer than I wanted, but I was delighted after that.

"It's always difficult as a striker when you haven't scored for a while and frustrating, but you just have to keep going, stay confident and when the goal comes, to maintain it.

"Of course I've been thinking about getting the winning goal in Kiev," Solanke admitted. "That's the dream."

Solanke has started just six times for Liverpool since arriving last summer but can have few complaints given the form of Salah, Mane and Firmino, who have scored 90 goals between them this season. Indeed, Solanke believes that watching and playing alongside the free-scoring trio has only helped him improve and he harbours no regrets about leaving Chelsea, where he made just one senior appearance.

"I've learnt watching them," he said. "You have to take it all in, watching them play, training with them every day, you can only learn.

"What they have done this season is amazing. I feel I'm a better player watching them and training with them. It was hard to leave Chelsea. I was there from such a young age, but when I came here everyone welcomed me.

"It's such an amazing club and we should always be fighting for trophies and we have got a good chance now. Hopefully we can do that.

"It's always hard to move, but it's part of football and you have got to make a change for your career sometimes and I'm happy I came here and want to try and carry on doing what I can do."

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