Adam Lewis has endured a tough campaign, but after missing a host of first-team openings an injury to Yasser Larouci could see him start in the FA Cup.
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.
Cruelly, this deprived Lewis of likely opportunities at senior level in the FA Cup and League Cup, having already been on the bench for the 2-0 win at MK Dons before his layoff.
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.
Neil Critchley revealed after the game that Larouci will undergo a scan on a suspected hamstring problem, as relayed by sports journalist George Bennett.
“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.
Caoimhin Kelleher should start in goal, Neco Williams will keep his place at right-back while Ki-Jana Hoever could partner Sepp van den Berg at centre-back.
Pedro Chirivella is likely to be captain, while Leighton Clarkson should be named in midfield and Harvey Elliott, Liam Millar and Joe Hardy are a strong, reasonably experienced trio in attack.
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