THE young Liverpool team had their pick of top European talent.

But the scouts on the touchline on that Sunday morning only wanted to know about the lanky lad playing at the back against them.

“Liverpool had the cream of the cream playing for them,” recalled his coach. “They had lads from all over Europe.

“But we went over there and won 1-0 and he was terrific. People on the sidelines were all asking me about him.

“He was playing centre back because he obviously had the height and he was like an Alan Hanson-type player. He took the ball out coolly and looked so calm in possession.

“Out of all the young lads, I always thought he would be the one with a good opportunity of making it and one day going on to become a professional footballer.”

That coach of Bradford City’s under-14s was Stuart McCall; the defender earning the accolades in an area where they know a thing or two about footballers was James King.

On Wednesday night, King was given his first senior chance – by McCall. Things had moved full circle.

King, playing out of position in midfield, was one of three young lads making their full debuts and continued the trend of City’s intention to give youth their head.

It might “only” have been the Checkatrade Trophy but for the likes of King, Tom Windle and Ellis Hudson – as well as Sam Wright who came on as a second-half substitute for James Meredith – the Morecambe game will be one to treasure.

Kwame Boateng, another second year, had previously been given his chance against a Stoke academy midfield featuring Charlie Adam.

With Danny Devine almost an old head in comparison with 12 appearances under his belt, there is finally refreshing proof that City do exist beneath the first team.

“It looks like we’ll be given the best possible chance with the manager and the owners so I’m happy about that,” said King.

“If you’re 13 or 14 now and see people coming through who’ve been in your position, it pushes you on a bit more.

“This year has proved that if you’re good enough, you can play no matter how old you are. Seeing Danny do well and Ellis gives me real hope.

“I was lucky because the manager had coached me in the academy. I knew him and he knew me which has worked out well.

Phil Parkinson had offered me the contract but only about a week after we got the news that he’d left.

“I was thinking that anyone could come in. But then when I heard it was the gaffer, I was really happy.”

King would probably have featured earlier but for injury. He has been dogged with problems since turning pro before the start of last season.

He only came back a fortnight ago from his latest setback with an injured knee, an issue he first encountered in July.

King added: “It was after the Guiseley friendly and kept me out two months.

“Then I came back and played 45 minutes in the reserves at Burton but the day after I had the same pain. That meant I was out for another two months.

“I thought I’d have a chance this year so to get the injury right at the start was a bit gutting.

“The first few weeks we had loads of injuries. I kept thinking what might have happened if I’d been fully fit.

“But I’m feeling good now and the standard of training is brilliant. Every day is a tough session but it’s enjoyable as well so you get the best of both worlds.”

With Rory McArdle and Nathan Clarke needing the game time at centre half, McCall gave King the choice of midfield or right back for his debut. The teenager opted for the holding role because he knew “he’d be worked a bit harder in there”.

McCall said: “I’d asked Kingy when the last time was he played centre midfield. It was when I was coaching him at 13!

“But he’s that type of player, he’s got a good attitude and the right mentality.

“He was blowing in the last ten minutes but I thought he acquitted himself well in an unaccustomed position.

“He just needs a little bit of good fortune with injuries because he’s been plagued by them.

“If he gets that run of training day in, day out and being strong, we’ll look to put him out on loan so he can get some football.

“There are never any guarantees in this game but it would be nice if he gets a fair crack of the whip to see what he can do.”