Jurgen Klopp has insisted “the door is wide open” for Rhian Brewster, after the Liverpool striker made his comeback from a long-term injury last week.
Brewster has been sidelined since the start of 2018 and required surgery on both his ankle and his knee, but the Reds have shown great faith in him while he is out.
This included signing his first pro deal with the club in July after suggestions he could leave for the Bundesliga, namely to Borussia Monchengladbach.
He has since made his return to the field in the U23s’ 4-0 win over Northwestern University at Kirkby on Friday, scoring twice in a 45-minute showing, with his opener a brilliant curler from outside the box.
Brewster has not been in first-team training since, however, and Klopp revealed that like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain he suffered a minor setback on his return.
But speaking in his pre-Southampton press conference on Wednesday, the manager made a brilliant declaration on the teenager’s future that should confirm he will feature prominently in the future.
“I’m not sure [when he is back]. He got a knock with the goalkeeper, a little bruise at the hip, we have to see,” he told reporters.
“But it was good. We watched it here in the office, and [it was] good to see. It’s nice having him in training.
“This week after the game he didn’t train because he had the bruise, so I don’t know if he can play [against Chelsea] at the weekend.
“But good to have him back. [It was his] birthday this week, 19 years old, crazy, so much to come.
“It’s only: get him fit, keep him fit and then the door is wide open for him.”
While it would be remiss to make any grand statements based on 45 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly, Brewster showed the quality that will not have left him while he was out.
The 19-year-old is a sublime finisher for his age level, and if he is able to replicate this on the senior stage he could prove to be a key player for Klopp in the long term.
His versatility, movement and improving work rate will be hugely important to Klopp, and Brewster himself has often held up Roberto Firmino as his inspiration as a centre-forward.
Next season may come too soon for Brewster to show his full potential, given how long he has spent out, but the manager is clearly willing to give him opportunities.
The focus now is, as Klopp says, to get fit and to stay fit, and from there the striker can build for the future.