LIVERPOOL — Liverpool Under-23s manager Neil Critchley admits that it is possible Rhian Brewster’s season is over as the club still await advice on whether the striker’s injury requires surgery.
Brewster required oxygen when he was stretched off in an U-23s match at Manchester City earlier this month, with Liverpool later announcing the 17-year-old had suffered a high-ankle sprain. The England youth international is back at home with his parents and is undergoing further assessments from medical experts down in London.
Speaking to promote Liverpool U-23s’ game with Derby County, Critchley told reporters on Thursday afternoon: “He’s going to be out for a significant period of time whatever happens. We’re just waiting on the specialist to say ‘Yeah, we think it’s better to have surgery or no he doesn’t [need it].’
“We’re looking at months, yeah. I think it’s a similar-type injury to what Ovie [Ejaria] had last season when he was out for a few months. It’s going to be months rather than weeks, I would have thought. I wouldn’t want to say it’s ‘season over’ but you’re talking months, you’re talking at least two months, so there’s the end of March. We finish at the end of April, early May. So it’s not going to give him any real time.
“I don’t think we should rush him back either. What’s more important now for Rhian is we do the right thing by him and he comes back in a fit, stable condition and hopefully stronger than when he was playing for us.”
Brewster, who has been at Liverpool since the age of 15 after leaving Chelsea, earned the national spotlight when he won the Golden Boot award at this summer’s U-17 World Cup, with his goals helping England win the tournament. Prior to that, the youngster was part of the first-team squad for Liverpool’s match with Crystal Palace last season and was regularly training at Melwood under Jurgen Klopp.
“He was obviously down for the first few days,” said Critchley of Brewster’s emotions following the set-back. “I think he’s got his Mum looking after him, running around silly for him. He’s happy with that, laying on the couch. She’ll give him stern words and make sure that he looks after his Mum and not the other way round.
“He’s got an intrinsic drive that he keeps well-hidden. You don’t often see that. He comes across as a quite happy, playful lad but things do get to him and he’s a very determined boy as well. He has a real good work ethic and that comes from his parents. We drive that into him all the time, so he knows he doesn’t get any half a yard with us or anything. We’ll be on him.
“I’ve spoken about him numerous occasions, he’s a top boy and we’re looking forward to, hopefully, him coming back in the near future.”
While admitting the situation is not ideal, Critchley believes Brewster’s time on the sideline can still aid his development
“That’s one benefit of younger players sometimes being injured. They actually get time to develop their body away from training everyday,” said Critchley. “They can concentrate on gym programmes, etc. so they come back stronger and fitter. That’s what we’re going to concentrate on with Rhian in the next few months.”
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.