The 20-year-old was man of the match in this week’s friendly against Brazil on Tuesday, a deserved reward for the work he has put in over the last year having fought back after 13 months out after cruciate knee ligament surgery.
Gomez’s career has been on an upward curve since that comeback game for Liverpool’s under-23s last November, having been named captain of England Under-21s in the summer and then established himself in Jurgen Klopp‘s side this season which led to his unexpected England bow.
To his credit instead of trying to rush himself back into the first team he spent the second half of last season working on his fitness and playing matches for the under-23s and it was a tactic which paid off.
“We’re here to facilitate the first team and the first-team players that maybe need game-time or are coming back from injury,” said current Liverpool Under-23 manager Neil Critchley, whose side host Everton in the mini-Merseyside derby at Tranmere’s Prenton Park on Saturday night.
“I think Joe was in that bracket last season. Speaking to all the staff and seeing him from afar on the other side of the pitch everyone was really impressed with him as a boy just as much they were as a player.
“I think you can see that when he’s doing these interviews after the Brazil game and he’s such a level-headed young man. He wants to improve. He’s got that hunger to get better.
“It was a fantastic performance from him. I think we’ve played a really tiny part in that. It’s all down to Joe and himself in his own development.
“He’s very mature for his age mentally it seems. He ticks a lot of boxes, doesn’t he? You’ve just got to look at his all-round game.
“Probably the one thing that he hasn’t got is experience but if he keeps performing like he does on Tuesday night then the experience will come very quickly because he’ll be playing for Liverpool and England.
“I think Joe now has gone well past us (the under-23s), hasn’t he? His ambitions and aspirations will be getting into our first team, staying in our first team and possibly now going to the World Cup – and rightly so.”