By Scott Taylor
Jon Flanagan continued his comeback from injury as he played 45 minutes in Liverpool U21s’ 4-0 victory over Morecambe in a friendly at the Kirkby Academy on Tuesday afternoon. Daniel Trickett-Smith scored his first goal of the season to give the Reds a first-half lead before Sam Hart, Harry Wilson and Adam Phillips rounded off the scoring after the interval. Flanagan, 22, built on the half-hour he played against Fleetwood last week by playing the duration of the first half in the win for Michael Beale’s side.
The Liverpool U21 was pleased that the defender got through his second game in seven days, and hinted there is more to come from the right-back. He told liverpoolfc.com: “It was great to give Flanagan 45 minutes and he did very well. He is getting stronger and he will now look to push on in the next few weeks and get some more minutes.”
Flanagan was not the only player making his comeback from a long term injury. Kevin Stewart suffered medial knee ligament damage whilst playing in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for his loan side Swindon Town in September. Beale also recognised the importance of his performance, as well as Jose Enrique’s. He said: “Stewart was excellent for us in his comeback and that was his first outing since injury [back in September]. Jose [Enrique] did very well and is getting stronger and he will benefit from the 90 minutes.”
Beale was able to give a rare start to summer signing Allan De Souza as the game was not a competitive fixture. It may be his last game for the Reds before he goes out on loan to a European club in order to secure a work permit. The midfielder, 18, recently returned from a historic loan spell at Finnish side SJK and scored in Liverpool U21s friendly with Birmingham earlier in the season.
The Liverpool manager also gave starts to Ryan McLaughlin and Daniel Trickett-Smith, who have both been suffering with injury problems this season. The Reds went closest to scoring when Flanagan had an effort cleared off the line after Jack Dunn had his shot well saved by the Morecambe ‘keeper.
Liverpool made their pressure count when Wilson played in Trickett-Smith who coolly converted for his first goal of the season in all competitions as the hosts went into the break with the advantage. Beale’s men doubled their side when two substitutes combined, with Matty Virtue’s cross finding Sam Hart who slid in a second goal of the game, and his second goal of the season.
Despite the scoreline, Morecambe still had chances to get back into the game. The visitors counter attacked and should have got their way back into the game, but Corey Whelan cleared the ball off the line. They rued that effort as Liverpool further extended their lead. Allan’s lofted through ball found Harry Wilson, who made it 3-0 and restored some much needed confidence after a hit-and-miss loan spell at Crewe Alexandra.
The Reds rounded off the scoring in the closing stages as Virtue again was the provider, this time for Phillips, who scored his first goal at U21 level for Liverpool, who followed up their 2-2 draw in August with a deserved victory. Beale’s side return to league action on 11 January when they travel to Southampton.
Liverpool XI: Fulton; Flanagan (Whelan), Brewitt (Virtue), Polgar (O’Hanlon), Enrique; Chirivella (Phillips), Stewart; McLaughlin (Hart), Allan, Wilson; Trickett-Smith (Lennon).