Liverpool handed major midfielder boost ahead of Dortmund clash
By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Kevin Stewart has handed Liverpool a boost as they prepare to be without Emre Can for two matches.
The fit-again midfielder played 63 minutes for the Under-21s in their 2-0 win over Leicester on Monday night, as he returned to action for the first time in almost two months.
Stewart had been sidelined for almost two months with an ankle injury sustained in training just 24 hours after making his Premier League debut when he came off the bench in the 6-0 rout of Aston Villa on 14 February.
But he performed impressively in the heart of midfield alongside Pedro Chirivella as goals from Jerome Sinclair and Lloyd Jones gave Michael Beale’s development side a convincing 2-0 win.
Stewart’s return comes ahead of the first leg of Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday and at a time when they prepare to make do without key central midfielder Can.
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The German is available for Dortmund but will miss the club’s next two Premier League matches – at home to Stoke and away to Bournemouth – after incurring a suspension for reaching the landmark of 10 yellow cards this season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham.
Stewart is likely to be one of three players, along with experienced duo Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, who could be asked to stand in for Can.
Stewart signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract in February, which also includes the option of extending it for a further 12 months until 2021.
It was a reward for the way Stewart forced his way into Jurgen Klopp’s plans with a string of accomplished performances since making his first-team debut in the FA Cup against Exeter in January.
Enfield-born Stewart joined the Reds on a free transfer in the summer of 2014 after being released by Tottenham.
The boyhood Liverpool fan arrived as an aspiring full-back but Academy director Alex Inglethorpe and under-21s coach Beale always felt his future lay as a defensive midfielder.
In other Liverpool team news, Lucas has revealed he is closing in on a return from the thigh injury that has sidelined him for a month.