Kevin Stewart looking to “get more minutes” after first Premier League start

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Kevin Stewart has spoken about making his first ever Premier League start for Liverpool, in the 4-1 win over Stoke City on Sunday.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2016: Liverpool's Kevin Stewart in action against Stoke City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds romped to victory over Mark Hughes’ lifeless Potters side, with Stewart slotting into a defensive midfield role.

Despite it being his first game back after two months out with ankle trouble, the 22-year-old shone from start to finish at Anfield.

He played with maturity in all facets of his game, and didn’t look remotely out of his place against more established top-flight players.

Stewart says he is delighted to have played a part in Liverpool’s win, and praised the way Jurgen Klopp has handled him this season.

“It was great to play the full 90 after coming back from injury and to be part of such a good team performance,” Stewart told the Liverpool Echo.

“To get those minutes under my belt will really help me. It was my first Premier League start and hopefully I can get a few more and stay injury free.

“There were a few mistakes in there which I’ll need to learn from but overall I think it went well.

“I tired a bit towards the end but that was down to not having played much recently. I’ll get that fitness back. The manager told me to keep things simple – to be aggressive, to be confident and to defend well.

“He takes the pressure off players and gives you the belief to go out there and perform. I do get nervous but I think a few nerves keeps me aware and on my toes.

“The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and that gives me confidence. I need to keep improving and listening to him.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp hugs Kevin Stewart after the 4-1 victory over Stoke City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking about his injury lay-off Stewart admits it was a frustrating time, but that he now has to focus on keeping his place in the squad.

“It was frustrating being out again because things were going well for me,” he added.

“I tore a ligament in my ankle when I blocked a pass in training. I just focused on working hard to get back fit as soon as possible and I was back quicker than expected.

“My goal was to get back in the squad towards the end of the season. I got involved today and it’s really pleasing.

“Now the challenge is to stay around the squad and try to get more minutes. I have to be ready if I’m called up again. I have to keep impressing the manager.”

Despite having signed a new long-term contract in February, Stewart’s role under Klopp in the future is unclear, with midfield an area where more competition will likely be added in the summer.

The youngster has impressed whenever he has been called upon in 2015/16, though, and is worth persevering with in certain games between now and May.

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