GRÖDIG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott (L) and substitute Layton Stewart celebrate the winning third goal, with the last kick of the game, during the final UEFA Youth League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Untersberg-Arena. Liverpool's won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“362 days ago…” – Liverpool striker sets comeback target after long-term injury

Layton Stewart has reflected on the “long and tough road” that saw him spend almost a year recovering from an ACL injury, after making his return this week.

Next week marks a year since Liverpool’s young striker ruptured his ACL in an under-23s fixture, curtailing an impressive campaign in the academy.

Stewart had scored 17 goals in 18 games prior to his injury, and had been called up to first-team training under Jurgen Klopp on a number of occasions as he caught the eye.

After a long period of rehabilitation, the 19-year-old finally made his comeback on Wednesday, playing 45 minutes as captain as the under-19s beat Sporting CP 2-1 in the Al Abtal Cup.

Taking to Instagram the following day, Stewart looked back on his journey and vowed that it was “time to push on.”

“362 days ago, I started my rehabilitation to get myself back on the pitch,” he wrote.

“It’s been a long and tough road to get to this point, but I can honestly say there is no better feeling [than] to play my first 45 minutes in yesterday’s game.

“I just want to say a massive thank you to all my physios, coaches and my team-mates for being by my side throughout my journey.

“And most of all my family and friends. Thank you all, time to push on now.”

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 15, 2022: Liverpool's Kaide Gordon (2nf from L) looks on during the Under-18 Premier League match between Liverpool FC Under-18's and Manchester City FC Under-18's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stewart is likely to build up his minutes in academy fixtures in the coming weeks, with another opportunity against Juventus in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League on Tuesday.

He could be saved, however, for the visit of Tottenham‘s under-23s on Sunday, with coach Barry Lewtas telling the club’s official website that while he would “not rush him,” he was also “not going to hold him back.”

“Layton has worked so hard,” Lewtas said.

“He has kept himself in really good shape and his outlook, his mentality, he has really matured and we are excited to have him back with us on the grass and back training.

“For us, it’s about getting him ready, not rushing him, but certainly at the same time as well, we are not going to hold him back.

“When he’s ready, he’s ready and we’ll be ready to play him and see where we go from there. He’s making good progress.”