By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Kevin Stewart has revealed he was given three simple instructions by Jurgen Klopp ahead of his full Premier League debut.
The 22-year-old midfielder was given the nod ahead of Lucas Leiva to partner Joe Allen in central midfield against Stoke on Sunday and responded with a fine display on a memorable day.
Liverpool swept Mark Hughes’ team aside to win 4-1 and maintain their momentum ahead of Thursday’s Europa League showdown against Borussia Dortmund.
Stewart is unlikely to be in the starting line-up in the quarter-final second leg, with Emre Can available after missing the Stoke match due to a domestic suspension.
But the former Tottenham man has provided further evidence of his improvement under Klopp in what was his comeback match following two months on the sidelines with ankle ligament damage.
“The manager told me to keep things simple – to be aggressive, to be confident and to defend well,” said Stewart afterwards, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
“He takes the pressure off players and gives you the belief to go out there and perform. I do get nervous but I think a few nerves keeps me aware and on my toes.
“The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and that gives me confidence. I need to keep improving and listening to him.”
Stewart broke into the senior set-up under Klopp in January after his loan spell at Swindon was terminated.
The young midfielder made four appearances in the FA Cup before coming off the bench in the 6-0 league rout of Aston Villa in February.
His rapid progress was halted by a training ground injury the following day but during his absence he penned a new Liverpool contract that runs until 2020, with the option of a further year.
“It was frustrating being out again because things were going well for me,” Stewart added in the Liverpool Echo. “I tore a ligament in my ankle when I blocked a pass in training.
“I just focused on working hard to get back fit as soon as possible and I was back quicker than expected. My goal was to get back in the squad towards the end of the season.”
In other Liverpool news, Stewart’s fellow youngster Jordan Ibe has plunged his future at the club into fresh doubt.