GARY Ablett conceded that none of his current Liverpool Reserve side are ‘totally ready’ for the first team following their fourth straight defeat.

The Reds lost 2-1 to an experienced Manchester City side at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, having gone down by a single goal to the same team at the Eastlands Stadium last month.

And their manager believes more time is needed before his young players are ready to compete with Premiership players like the veteran trio of Benjani, Darius Vassell and Michael Ball whom the visitors fielded last night on a regular basis.

He said: “That is the level our young lads need to get to in order to get to the Premiership so it is a great experience for them.

"Hopefully they will use this as a learning experience and go on to have careers in the first team.

“I don’t expect any of these players to be totally ready for the first team for another 12 to 18 months, in some cases maybe more.”

Liverpool lifted the Barclays Premier Reserve League North trophy last season, but they have struggled so far this term – accumulating just three points from a possible 15.

Ablett added: “It was frustrating because I thought the game was quite even.

“First half I thought they had the occasional half chance and we created the best opportunities, but two defensive errors and lapses of concentration along with the way our luck is going at the moment meant we paid for them.

“That was a lot better tonight than how we have played recently.

“We kept going and it is just a confidence thing for us at the moment – we just need to get that win and then go from there.”

The former Liverpool and Everton defender praised the efforts of Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, who prevented Manchester City extending their lead with a particularly impressive second half performance.

He said: “We have a lot of confidence in Peter, he could be a very good player. He made some outstanding saves.

“He is one we have high hopes for and we will see how he goes. He is a work in progress but at this moment in time we are really pleased with his contribution.”