Liverpool vs Barcelona semifinal: Rhian Brewster primed to step up

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Monday that teenage striker Rhian Brewster is set to be involved in the crucial UEFA Champions League semifinal clash against Barcelona.

Liverpool vs Barcelona semifinal: Rhian Brewster primed to step up

It has taken a bit of time coming, but Rhian Brewster is set to take the step up to the Liverpool first team, according to his manager Jurgen Klopp. And it doesn't get any bigger than a UEFA Champions League semifinal clash against Spanish giant FC Barcelona, with Brewster's side facing a three-goal deficit.

Injuries to first-choice forwards Mohamed Salah (concussion) and Roberto Firmino (muscular injury) has paved the way for the involvement of the 19-year-old Brewster at Anfield on Tuesday night.

PREVIEW: Liverpool vs Barcelona - second leg

Brewster was part of the victorious England U-17 World Cup squad which was held in India in 2017. He took home the Golden Boot with eight goals, including England's opening strike in the 5-2 win over Spain in the final. He was also awarded the Bronze Ball for his overall performances in the tournament.

Brewster in training ahead of Liverpool's match against Barcelona. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City) and Callum-Hudson Odoi (Chelsea) have already established themselves as the flag-bearers from the class of 2017. Angel Gomes (Manchester United) and Emile-Smith Rowe (Arsenal) have also made their debuts, but are yet to deliver eye-catching performances.

Brewster's first brush with the Liverpool senior squad, however, came much before many from the U-17 World Cup winning squad. He was an unused substitute in the Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace in April, 2017. An injury in a U-23 match in 2018 saw him sidelined for well over a year and hurt his chances of a first-team debut. 

Despite the injury, he has the backing within the club, which saw him sign a five-year contract in June last year. Rangers manager and Reds legend Steven Gerrard, who coached Brewster at youth level, feels the striker can reach the very top level because of his 'work rate and relentless running.'

After Brewster's return from injury, Klopp has been cautious about handing him his first-team debut. Now, however, the German feels Brewster is ready. "Yes, there is a big chance. It’s nearly sure. It’s guaranteed,” Klopp said of the youngster's inclusion in the 18-man squad for the Barcelona clash.

READ | Klopp: Brewster ready for Liverpool chance against Barcelona

Brewster celebrates afteer scoring in the U-17 World Cup final against Spain at the Salt Lake Stadium. PHOTO: K.R. DEEPAK   -  K.R. DEEPAK

 

Klopp has also promised him playing time from next season. "Rhian has now arrived with us after being heavily injured. Day by day, he has got better and better. He has been in outstanding shape for the last three or four weeks but the other players were there as well.

"Next season he will be playing 100 per cent and he knows that. I have told him already," he said.

Klopp's words will be music to Brewster's ears, who was once part of Chelsea's youth set-up before he moved to Liverpool's academy aged 14 in the hope of a better chance of breaking into the first team.

If Brewster does manage to start from the first whistle, he will have the full backing of the home faithful at the Kop end as Liverpool pushes for another miracle under the Anfield lights.