After 15 months on the sidelines, Rhian Brewster made a goalscoring return to action for Liverpool’s Under-23 side on Friday.
The 18-year-old had not played since suffering a serious knee and ankle injury in January 2018, but was given 45 minutes for Neil Critchley’s team in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the club’s Academy in Kirkby.
And he wasted no time getting straight back into the groove, scoring both goals in the Reds’ 4-0 victory against American college side Northwestern University.
Scottish defender Tony Gallacher also scored twice in the game, but it was Brewster who stole the show.
His first goal was curled home expertly from outside the penalty area, while his second was a poacher’s effort after Glen McAuley’s shot had struck the crossbar.
The England Under-17 World Cup winner was watched by Reds team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the pair having grown close as they completed their arduous rehabilitation programmes at Melwood. Oxlade-Chamberlain himself is expected to return to full training next week after suffering a minor muscle issue on his own return to action three weeks ago.
“You find out a lot about yourself,” he said. “You have to be tough mentally.
“The operations were big ones, so I knew it’d take a lot of hard work. It’s hard, you know? You’re in the gym for hours on end doing strengthening exercises, and that’s just so you are able to start running again. You can’t even think about getting on the pitch to start with.”
The youngster, who signed a five-year professional deal last summer, remains highly rated by Jurgen Klopp and his staff, who will have been delighted to see such a positive impact from the Londoner upon his return – though like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Brewster’s return will be carefully managed, with Liverpool keen not to put too much pressure on the player’s shoulders.
Critchley’s side are next in action on April 6, when they entertain Chelsea at Kirkby. Assuming there is no adverse reaction to this first runout, Brewster will be in contention to face his former club that day.