Between The Lines: Improved physicality a clue that Rhian Brewster is close to first team

Speaking to The Liverpool Echo, Liverpool under-23 manager Neil Critchley has explained how club youngster Rhian Brewster has improved his physicality after returning from a long injury lay-off.

What has he said exactly?

Giving an interview following Brewster’s first two matches back after ankle and knee surgeries saw him miss 14 months, the gaffer had this to say on the shape the 19-year-old has returned in:

“He looks much bigger physically.

“That time out as a young player gives you the opportunity to develop your body. You’ve not got football every day. He looks maturer and has more muscle mass and strength.”

Physically ready for senior football

Reading between the lines, these comments suggest that Brewster could be closer to a senior debut and consistent football in the first team than many people think.

The one thing holding many youngsters back is the lack of physicality which is needed to cope in Europe’s top leagues, and none is tougher than the Premier League.

But what we’ve been told is that physicality is something that the under-17 FIFA World Cup winner is clearly not lacking.

What we can also gather about the young attacker from his time on the sideline is that he has showcased a high level of professionalism and genuine desire to succeed.

The fact that he’s been doing everything he can to keep in shape while he’s been unable to take to the pitch points towards a very bright future for Brewster.

With the front three so successful at Anfield, it’s harder for any forward to break through than ever, but Brewster is still incredibly young and could be the ideal age to take over from Mo Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino as he reaches the prime years of his career.

Plus, the futures of the two current reserve forwards in Jurgen Klopp’s squad, Daniel Sturridge and Divok Origi seem far from certain, meaning this summer the former wonderkid could be in position to be the first back-up.

Fit again, Brewster should have the upcoming pre-season to impress Klopp and play his way into his immediate plans.

The first thing he will notice is the academy product’s newfound physicality and, with that in mind, Liverpool’s lack of convincing options at centre-forward could put him in contention for a place in the senior squad.