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  • Billy Wooldridge

Wolves Academy Graduate Dexter Lembikisa On Man Marking Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo

Dutch international Cody Gakpo signed for Liverpool on New Years Day for a fee of around £45 million from PSV after a stunning World Cup with the Netherlands international team, however his debut was slightly muted by another debutant.

18-year-old Wolves right-back Dexter Lembikisa had already made his Premier League and League Cup debuts in the recent few months, but his biggest test to date was coming up against the winter transfer windows biggest signing.

“The first moment stepping out at Anfield in the FA Cup was a crazy experience,” said Lembikisa. “I was more excited then nervous to be fair. When you hear that noise in the stadium you want to do well and give your all on the pitch.”

Lembikisa has been a part on the Wolves setup since the age of 13, before signing his first professional contract with the club in November 2021.

Lembikisa made his first-team debut as a late substitute against Leeds in a late 1-0 win in the Carabao Cup in November before playing the final 20 minutes in a 2-0 loss away to Arsenal, making his Premier League debut.

The right-back, eligible to represent Jamaica at international level, spoke exclusively on his battle with Gakpo last Saturday.

“After seeing him playing at the World Cup, scoring all those goals it’s a very good challenge,” said Lembikisa. “He’s a sharp player so I made sure I was switched on and I tried to force him down the line and try not to force him in too much.”

“The manager was telling me to try to keep him outside and not let him inside while also making sure he doesn’t get in between me and Nathan (Collins),” continued Lembikisa. “But yeah, he’s a good player but I think I did well against him.”

The 18-year-old played 68 minutes on Saturday evening, before Nelson Semedo was brought on at 2-2, but showed when he was on the pitch why he was given the nod.

Gakpo had very little to cheer about after his anticipated Anfield arrival.

Two days later, Lembikisa penned a new three-and-a-half-year contract at Molineux after impressing Julen Lopetegui and his staff with his first-team appearances.

Speaking to Wolves TV, sporting director Matt Hobbs said “It’s great for Dexter and his family. I’m delighted for him and delighted for what it shows the rest of the academy players”.

On his contract, Lembikisa said, “signing a new contract is a good feeling because you know the club trusts you and wants you to stay around. It gives you motivation to try harder to reach the next level and improve.”

“It gives you, not a sense of safety, but a sense of you know where you’re going to be and you know the club backs you,” continued Lembikisa.

After all three of his debuts this season for the first team (Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup debut), Lembikisa has a clear favourite.

“I would say the league cup was my favourite,” said Lembikisa. “I say that because we won the game, and it was my first ever professional game, so it was a special moment.”

“We won with a late winner and all the boys were celebrating so it was a good win and experience, even though the most valuable (debut) was the FA Cup as I started and it gave me a good experience on what playing against top players is like,” said Lembikisa.

Looking ahead, the 18-year-old knows what he wants, “professional minutes is what I need, whether that’s going on loan or staying here.”

“I’m not too sure at the moment what they (Wolves) want to do, but either one, staying on loan or playing with Wolves, would be good for my development.”

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