Liverpool defender Joe Gomez made his first appearance in 13 months in Sunday’s 5-0 behind-closed-doors friendly win over Accrington Stanley.
Gomez was sidelined with an ACL injury in October of last year, before suffering a setback in his recovery in the summer, meaning he had not featured since Jurgen Klopp‘s arrival.
But the Reds manager was finally able to select his 19-year-old star as Melwood welcomed League Two side Stanley for a low-key clash, with Gomez playing out the whole second half.
Loris Karius, Joel Matip, Lucas Leiva, James Milner, Alberto Moreno and Emre Can also featured, having remained on Merseyside for the international break.
Can was among the scorers, along with under-23s captain Harry Wilson and under-18s star Rhian Brewster, with the 16-year-old netting a hat-trick in a solid win.
Gomez’s inclusion was the biggest positive, having spent a nightmare stretch in the treatment room at Liverpool’s training facility.
The former Charlton Athletic youngster, who impressed in his initial Anfield outings following a £3.5 million move from the Valley in 2015, can now target a first-team return in the future.
It could still be a long way in the distance, but this represents a significant milestone for Gomez.
Klopp has publicly backed Gomez since his initial injury on duty with the England Under-21s last year, and will be hoping to utilise his versatility at some stage this season.
Gomez is arguably at his best at centre-back, and in the past has stressed this is his preferred position, but he can also turn out at both left- and right-back.
This provides Klopp with plenty of options, most notably at right-back where he currently has Connor Randall and Trent Alexander-Arnold as backup to undisputed first choice Nathaniel Clyne.
The 49-year-old will, however, be eager for no definitive judgements to be made following Gomez’s appearance against Stanley.
Klopp will continue to take a patient approach to Gomez’s recovery, and he is unlikely to play for the first team before 2017.