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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 9, 2022: Liverpool's Layton Stewart during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Derby County FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool striker’s gratitude to 2 first-team players after “horrible” 13-month injury

Academy forward Layton Stewart has thanked two of Liverpool’s senior players for their support as he recovered from a horrific knee injury.

The 20-year-old has been in impressive goalscoring form for the under-21s this season, netting 18 times in 20 appearances to bounce back from his setback in style.

Stewart returned to full fitness last April after spending 13 months on the sidelines with an injury he sustained in a Premier League 2 fixture against West Ham at Kirkby.

Speaking in an interview with Goal, Stewart singled out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez as players who were a “big help” during the recovery process.

“Ox was a big help, he had the same injury and when he found out what I’d done he came over and was always talking to me, making sure I was alright and making sure I was doing my work,” explained the striker.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 8, 2022: Liverpool's Layton Stewart celebrates scoring the first goal during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-21's and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC Under-21's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

“Gomez was the same, really good. I’ll never forget that, because it meant a lot to a young player.”

Both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gomez have suffered severe injuries of their own during their Liverpool careers, leaving them adequately placed to provide encouragement and guidance to a young player going through similar experiences.

Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a cruciate ligament rupture during the Reds’ 5-2 victory over Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg back in 2018 and has struggled with various fitness issues ever since.

Gomez also sustained cruciate ligament damage back in 2015, has twice undergone ankle surgery and ruptured his left knee patellar tendon in 2020, culminating in a string of long-term absences.

That they offered their support and first-hand experience has clearly struck a chord with Stewart, but they are not the only ones to take him under their wing.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 29, 2023: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain arrives before the FA Cup 4th Round match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the Falmer Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The leading scorer for the under-21s has also struck up a relationship with the departing Roberto Firmino, a player who has been a significant source of inspiration for Stewart.

The academy prospect continued: “I speak to Bobby a lot, actually. I absolutely love him. He messages me on Instagram after a game saying ‘well done’ and things like that, which means a lot to a young player.”

It has been a promising season for the youngster, who has demonstrated a great deal of mental and physical resilience to come back strongly from a lengthy period on the sidelines.

He will be hoping to continue his progress next season as he looks to add to his sole first-team appearance in the Carabao Cup against Derby in November.