Liverpool youngster Joe Gomez must have felt like a forgotten man at times over the past year. Since suffering a serious injury in October 2015 the club has appointed a new manager, signed a host of new players and transformed themselves into early season title contenders.
But there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for the 19-year-old, who can now begin on the road back to the first team having made an appearance in a closed-doors friendly this week.
Having suffered a cruciate ligament injury while on international duty last year, the former Charlton man has been undergoing extensive rehabilitation, which has now seemingly paid off as he featured for 45 minutes against Accrington Stanley at the Reds' Melwood training base.
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Liverpool ran out 5-0 winners on the night, and the game provided manager Jurgen Klopp with his first glimpse of what the teenager can do as he also sought to keep several of his players fresh during the international break.
According to The Telegraph the likes of James Milner, Emre Can, Joel Matip, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Moreno and goalkeeper Loris Karius also featured, with goals coming from Rhian Brewster (3), Harry Wilson and Can.
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The injury came at a particularly bad time for Gomez, who having been signed by Brendan Rodgers last summer for £3.5million, made an immediate impact upon arrival, forcing his way into the squad as the side's first choice left-back.
However, after just five appearances he was ruled out for a year when he was injured during England under-21's win over Kazakhstan 13 months ago, halting his progress dead in its tracks.
However, with Liverpool's season off to a flyer, Klopp is reluctant to shake up his squad too much, and hinted that though Gomez would likely feature in his plans at some point, there would be no rush to bring him back into the fold before he's ready.
“He looks really good at the moment, but it is a long way – he was injured for a long time and now it is a long way back, so there is no rush in it.,” Klopp said.
“He is still a young boy so we can give him time to come back in the right moment.”
Liverpool are currently sat at the top of the Premier League with 26 points from 11 games and will face the tough task of extending their lead at the top with a tough trip to Southampton this weekend.