The Liverpool under-23s began pre-season with a 5-1 victory over Warrington Rylands FC on Wednesday, with Jack Bearne returning from injury to score a brace.
Bearne was an integral part of Barry Lewtas’ U23s side last season, scoring three goals and setting up another three in 13 appearances, but an ankle injury ended his campaign early.
“This is the second surgery I’ve had on this particular ankle which is very frustrating,” the 19-year-old reflected after his ligament damage repair.
“But it only drives me on to come back stronger than ever, and to give my rehab everything to try and get back to my best!”
The £150,000 signing from Notts County has spent the last five months working on his return to full fitness, and was given a chance to show his progress as the U23s welcomed Rylands to Kirkby.
It took Bearne just five minutes to open the scoring, netting from the spot before doubling his tally soon after in a game played over two 30-minute halves.
Centre-back Lee Jonas, stepping up from the under-18s in the absence of Billy Koumetio, added another from a James Norris cross before further goals from Tom Clayton and Max Woltman.
Woltman’s goal came after a stunning end to the season with the U18s, with the 17-year-old scoring 12 and assisting nine in 30 appearances for the academy, with no youth player contributing more.
Lewtas is likely to call upon a host of U18s graduates as part of his squad heading into the new season, with pre-season giving him an opportunity to test a number of players out.
The U23s will take on Welsh side Caernarfon Town in another friendly next Wednesday, while they are also expected to face off with Newcastle on August 8.
Meanwhile, Oakley Cannonier made an injury return of his own as an U18s side comprised of many players from Jonathan Robinson’s under-16s squad beat Birmingham 2-0 in another friendly at Kirkby.
Cannonier recently signed his first professional contract with the club, with Melkamu Frauendorf, Mateusz Musialowski, Fabian Mrozek, Lee Chambers and Harvey Davies also agreeing terms.