WREXHAM, WALES - Wednesday, March 20, 2019: Wales' goalscorer Ben Woodburn applauds the crowd after the International friendly match between Wales and Trinidad and Tobago at the Racecourse Ground. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Ben Woodburn makes Liverpool U23s return against Europa League opposition

New and familiar faces were present for Liverpool’s under-23s as they made their return to action in a friendly encounter of their own on Saturday, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The academy season was brought to a premature end last season due to the coronavirus, but a resemblance of ‘normal’ returned over the weekend at Kirkby against Cymru Premier’s The New Saints.

The young Reds’ opposition were gearing up for their Europa League clash against Slovakia outfit MSK Zilina next week and were handed a stern test.

Under new management with Barry Lewtas, the Reds welcomed Paul Glatzel and Abdi Sharif back from long-term injuries while Ben Woodburn also featured having missed out on the first team’s training camp in Austria.

Liverpool had found themselves 2-0 down at the interval with their senior opposition making the most of their chances, only for two feel-good stories to emerge as both Glatzel and Sharif found the net to clinch a draw.

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 11, 2019: Liverpool's Paul Glatzel during a pre-season friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the final 25 minutes of the clash, the pair got the better of former Liverpool goalkeeper Paul Harrison, with Jack Bearne and Jake Cain both creating the openings.

The highly-rated Vitezslav Jaros proved decisive for the Reds at the other end of the field, meanwhile, having denied The New Saints in quick succession to keep Liverpool within striking distance.

The comeback will no doubt have pleased Lewtas ahead of the new campaign, injecting further confidence into a lineup which was littered with players who made their senior Liverpool debut last season: Bearne, Cain, James Norris, Luis Longstaff and Leighton Clarkson.

For Glatzel and Sharif, it came as an important milestone on their respective returns from an ACL injury, while Woodburn’s presence indicates another loan stint is imminent – with clubs from the Eredivisie and League One interested in securing his services.