The 20-year-old played a regular part in Liverpool’s pre-season preparations, making six appearances—fewer than only eight players, the majority of which were senior staples.
But a knee ligament injury sustained in the under-23s’ 2-2 draw with Arsenal in September sidelined the left-back for four months, allowing Larouci and Tony Gallacher to establish themselves.
He returned in the 3-0 loss to Wigan in the Premier League Cup on January 17, and added to this was another substitutes’ appearance in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Wolves.
The circumstances surrounding his introduction can be considered both fortuitous and bittersweet, as it came following an injury to Larouci.
“It doesn’t look good when you’re running for a ball and you suddenly pull up,” Critchley said.
“It looks like he’s going to have an issue with his hamstring at this moment in time and we can’t obviously put a time frame on it.
“He’ll settle down and probably go for a scan and we’ll have to see. It was only real negative of the night.”
Larouci benefited from Lewis’ absence earlier in the season, earning considerable praise for his performance in the 1-0 win over Everton in the FA Cup third round and keeping his place for the 2-2 draw at Shrewsbury.
But now his untimely blow could lead to Lewis’ reintroduction, which hands a big chance to a player who would likely otherwise have taken a prominent role this season.
Critchley will be manager for the visit of Shrewsbury for the fourth-round replay at Anfield next week, and he should field a very similar lineup to the U23s’ draw with Wolves.
The only feasible changes are Curtis Jones replacing Jake Cain in the No. 8 role, and Larouci making way to present Lewis with his first-team debut.
It may be months late, but this could be the opening the left-back many touted as a clear replacement for Alberto Moreno has been waiting for.
Likely Liverpool XI vs. Shrewsbury: Kelleher; Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Lewis; Chirivella, Clarkson, Jones; Elliott, Millar, Hardy