Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster is determined to repay the faith of Jurgen Klopp by proving himself as genuine first-team option and having a long-term future at the club.
The 18-year-old has been sidelined by ankle and knee problems for 13 months but he is so highly rated the club did not hesitate in signing him up to his first professional five-year contract last summer.
Klopp has already highlighted pre-season with his squad as the point Brewster should focus on, but the Reds boss has kept in close contact with the teenager, reassuring him about his future plans.
“It has been a frustrating time, I’ve been out for a long time and I don’t wish that on anyone,” Brewster, speaking at a Safer Internet Day hosted by the club through their Red Neighbours partnership, told Press Association Sport.
“It’s happened and I’m finally back fit and doing what I love and pushing to get back in the team.
“To know that the boss really wants me to be in his plans for the future is amazing, especially a boss like him.
“They could easily have left me at the academy to do my rehab but they wanted me to do my rehab with them, so I can’t thank them enough.
“During this injury I’ve had that, he has been there from beginning to the end and to know he still wants me – even though it’s been so long – gives me a great boost.
“Every time I see him he gives me a big hug. Not only him, every time I see the players they are asking about how I am, ‘How long?’, they can’t wait for me to be back in training and hopefully make my debut this year, if not next.”
.@RhianBrewster9 on the debt of gratitude he owes @LFC boss Jürgen Klopp pic.twitter.com/gXVAbUTVPj
— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) February 6, 2019
Even though he got the reward of a long contract last summer, Brewster will not rest on his laurels.
The long lay-off has made him even more determined to return ready to stake his claim for a place alongside Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
“It’s not really comfort because I don’t like the comfort zone,” the 2017 Under-17 World Cup winner said of his contract.
“I like to work hard for my stuff so the injury and trying to get back fit, working hard, is all I’ve been doing.
“I want to prove to everyone that the boss has kept faith in me for a reason and I want to prove to everyone that I’m good enough to be in the first team.
“When I’m back, that is what I hope to do. It doesn’t stop, I’ll keep pushing myself.
“I’ve got to keep going and hopefully I’m here for longer than five years.”
Brewster was attending a Safer Internet Day at Anfield where 500 schoolchildren learned about online safety.
The striker admits his social media profile has helped him during the tough rehabilitation period.
“I’ve been out for a long time and it’s good to know people are still there and still believing in me and what I can do. Social media, especially Instagram, has helped me a lot,” he said.
“I know it sounds crazy but I’m some kids’ idol, so at such a young age I know my what social media imposes on me.
“They may not see me in real life so for them to see my social media, that’s maybe the only way they can get close to me so it is really important not just for me but them as well.
“The good side is that I have a lot of fans who want to know how I’m doing and my progress but you get some people who are trolls who hate, people who just want to put you down but I laugh at them to be honest.”