If his demeanour during Monday's pre-Ajax press conference is anything to go by, Jürgen Klopp is struggling to find the positives at the moment. Typically effervescent even during these compulsory meetings with journalists, the German instead looked downbeat as he fielded question after question on the fitness issues facing a frayed squad.

But, while it might be difficult for Klopp to appreciate at the moment, injury problems do always have one major upside: opportunity. And for Liverpool, that has been evident in regular outings for academy prospect Curtis Jones this season.

The Reds had, of course, always planned for the 19-year-old to be more frequently involved this term, with the possibility of a departure on loan never seriously considered. Jones was earmarked to effectively take Adam Lallana's place in the squad in the months prior to the experienced midfielder joining Brighton on a free transfer.

However, the aforementioned fitness issues Klopp is currently grappling with have served to fast-tracked the teenager's progress. Having clocked up just 141 Premier League minutes and zero Champions League outings last term, Jones has played 484 minutes across both competitions already this season.

And, with Liverpool still short on senior numbers in midfield, he is likely to add to that figure against Ajax on Tuesday. A fourth Champions League start of the campaign would represent a fair measure of the rapid development of a player whose short career has seen him tend to operate ahead of schedule.

Despite debuting for the club's U18s team at the age of just 15, Jones always looked a step above of many of his peers at that level. It took just three years for him to move from that age group to the senior side, and then a further year to become the youngest captain in Liverpool's history – albeit in unusual circumstances.

This meteoric rise has been matched by a personal growth that Klopp has been at pains to point out whenever he has spoken about the teenager of late. After Jones impressed during last week's 2-0 defeat to Atalanta, his manager could not have been more effusive in his praise.

He said: “It is a tough task for the kids; we ask them to show up in the Champions League and play their best football and people sit there, ‘Oh, he’s good… oh, he’s not that good…’ and stuff like this. Curtis played again like a 26/27-year-old midfielder."

That maturity is certainly reflected in the numbers the young Scouser has been putting up in the early part of this campaign. Having averaged 4.5 shots and 4.5 dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season, Jones is down to 0.36 and 3.2 respectively this time around.

Clearly, he is learning what it means to be a midfielder in this Liverpool team; to be a cog in a machine where self-sacrifice for the greater good is a requirement. The exciting part is that the more creative aspects of his playing personality will eventually be allowed to surface when Klopp is sure his young charge knows exactly when and where to use them.

Should Jones continue to progress at his current rate, that shouldn't be too far away at all.