He’s a young striker with a big future – but for now Rhian Brewster must be content with “doing people’s heads in” down at Melwood.
The Liverpool teenager is currently working his way back to fitness after a serious knee and ankle injury sustained playing for the Reds’ U-23 side in January. Brewster spent most of the summer working with the club’s rehabilitation coaches alongside the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, and hopes to resume light training in the next month.
And Neil Critchley, the U-23 manager, says the 18-year-old will be desperate to get back playing and showing people what he can do.
“I'm sure he'll be doing a few people's heads in down at Melwood, chomping at the bit and ready to return!” Critchley joked. “He'll be quite restless.
“He's a young boy who loves playing football and wants to play football, so he'll hugely frustrated at the moment.”
Brewster ended speculation about his future at Anfield by penning a first professional contract last month, snubbing serious interest from clubs such as Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig in the process.
Having already featured on the bench for Jurgen Klopp’s senior side, the England U-17 World Cup winner told Goal in June that he was desperate to prove himself at first-team level sooner rather than later.
And Critchley believes his new Reds deal is great news for all concerned.
“It was a real pick-me-up for him and for us,” he said. “I was delighted.
“I always thought he would sign. I never thought there would be any danger of him leaving. I know how much he loves being at Liverpool. I know what the people and the club mean to him. I'm absolutely delighted that he's decided to stay and sees his future at the football club.”
Without the injury, Brewster may well have been part of Critchley’s U-23 squad as they got their Premier League 2 campaign underway with a goalless draw at Brighton last week. On Friday, they entertain Spurs at Anfield, with the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Pedro Chirivella in line to feature. Youngsters Curtis Jones, Rafa Camacho and Nat Phillips, who spent the summer with the senior side, could also drop back down.
Critchley says he is enthused by what he has seen from his young charges in pre-season, and believes the return of Pep Lijnders to the first-team coaching staff will help his Academy stars’ prospects of catching Klopp’s eye in the future.
“Pep was only away for a short period of time, and for us as an academy, it's great that he’s back,” he said.
“He's a big believer in youth and developing young players. He's obviously a good ally for us to talk to and speak to. I'm delighted that he's back in the first-team fold.
“We're very fortunate because we have good lines of communication, so we have access to training and watch the training, and obviously we can speak to Pep.
“We’re fortunate that we've got an 'in', so to speak, at Melwood with the first team. And that's really important because if we're going to give them players, we don't want them to fail when they have an audition.
“So, any training, if they go from a completely different style of play down here or [different] types of training sessions and they go to Melwood and it's the first time they've ever been in a session they've never done before, they could easily be like a fish up a tree and might only last a week.
“It's not exactly the same but we try and replicate some of the sessions and how the [first] team plays because when they get up there we want it to be familiar to them.”
Liverpool will be without defender Conor Masterson against Tottenham, as he recovers from a meniscus injury sustained at the back end of last season. The Republic of Ireland U-19 international is, however, back in training and could return to action soon.
Liverpool take on Tottenham at Anfield in their Premier League 2 clash on Friday evening, kick off 7pm. Tickets are available for the game, priced £3 for adults and £1 concessions, but must be purchased in advance, before 5pm on Friday.