Liverpool youngster Tom Hill has spent 24 of the last 26 months out injured, with under-21s manager Barry Lewtas insisting he has “just had bad luck.”
Hill was involved in the first weeks of pre-season training with the first team, travelling to Thailand and featuring in the friendly loss to Man United.
But a knock during a session in Bangkok forced him out of action, and that ultimately led to four months on the sidelines before his first appearance back for the U21s on Sunday.
That came after an ACL injury suffered in September 2020 which, combined with shin and back problems, kept him out for a total of 20 months.
“Tom has had really bad luck, without a shadow of a doubt,” the U21s coach said.
“Tom is a young boy who is an unbelievable professional in the way he approaches things. He has just had bad luck.
“We all hope that is behind him now and we will integrate him back into the team and back into the squad, full training.
“It was really nice to give him a runout.
“We put Tom on at a real important time of the game and that’s because we know what kind of player he is and his personality. He made a really important impact for us.”
It has been a nightmare two years for Hill, who was emerging as one of the brightest talents in the Liverpool academy prior to his ACL injury and had been set to captain the under-18s that season.
Now he finds himself settling back into football with the U21s, having been given the carrot of a first-team opportunity in the summer.
Both Hill and Lewtas will now be hoping that his injury issues are now behind him, so he can put together an extended run of games before a decision is made over his next step.
There is even the chance, perhaps, of a loan move to the Football League in January, though caution will be taken when it comes to his fitness.