Rhian Brewster is getting closer to full fitness and u23s coach Neil Critchley is seeing encouraging very signs from the young striker.
Rhian Brewster is showing some “really good signs” he is edging nearer to full fitness for Liverpool.
Brewster featured for 71 minutes for the under-23s in their Premier League 2 opener against Tottenham Hotspur at the Academy in Kirkby on Saturday afternoon.
Although Neil Critchley’s side were ultimately well beaten 4-0, Brewster caught the eye while leading the attack and was denied a fine goal by a good save from Spurs goalkeeper Brandon Austin.
Brewster scored four times early on during pre-season with the first team, but Jurgen Klopp admitted the 19-year-old then struggled with the intensity of training having been out for more than a year with a knee problem.
The teenage forward continues to train with the senior squad but, having not made the bench for the first two games of the season, he dropped down to U23 level at the weekend.
And Critchley explained: “Rhian needs to build up volume of football. He’s had a good pre-season where he has stayed fit and has managed some minutes for the first team and scored a couple of goals for them.
“He just has to keep playing games. If he does that, I’m sure at some point his fitness and general all-round game, co-ordination, his agility, his touch, his awareness, that will come back.
“You have to remember how long he was out for. There were really good signs from him.
“He had a great opportunity in the second half when he was played in had to square it to Elijah (Dixon-Bonner) and just overhit.
“When he has his rhythm back and plays more games, he just slides that across and Elijah taps that in and we equalise. He just needs time.
“He looks lean and trim and fit, he has definitely developed physically.”
Brewster’s display was one of few bright spots in which a strong Liverpool line-up surrendered meekly during the second half to slump to a heavy defeat.
“We gradually improved in the first half and in the second half I thought we were in the ascendancy but the second goal killed us, really,” said Critchley. “We could have defended it better.
“I was disappointed with the way we ended the game. The result possibly makes the performance look worse than what it was. But we have to do a lot better in certain moments in the game.”
Many of the players had featured for an U21 side in their historic first game in the EFL Trophy on Wednesday, which they lost 3-2 at Oldham.
“We want to play games, we have to get volume of games into our players,” said Critchley.
“We want them to be building that resilience, perseverance especially when things aren’t going well, is important, and maybe we showed a bit of frailty in certain moments against Tottenham.
“If they are going to survive in the hard world of football, they are going to have to learn, and in certain areas against Tottenham I thought we were a bit weak.”
Sepp van den Berg missed out as a precaution having complained of a slight thigh problem after Wednesday’s game.
However, fellow summer signing Harvey Elliott followed his encouraging outing at Boundary Park by featuring for more than an hour.
“Harvey seems happy and is mixing in well with some of the boys already,” said Critchley.
“He had a couple of lovely moments in the first half in and around the area. You can see he has a lovely eye for a final pass, and I’m sure he will get some goals as well.
“What I’ve seen so far from him, I’m really impressed.”