By Scott Taylor
Kevin Stewart is one of four Liverpool players set to make their debuts for the first team in this evening’s Emirates FA Cup third round tie at Exeter City. Stewart, 22, may feature alongside his team-mates Tiago Ilori, Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo, who have all been recalled from their respective loan spells. The midfielder also returned from his season-long loan at League One side Swindon Town, and with Jurgen Klopp’s side going through an injury crisis, there is a good chance he may make his debut.
Stewart signed for the Tottenham Hotspur academy in July 2010 as a 16-year-old. After playing for the U18s and progressing to the U21s, managed by Liverpool’s current Academy directory Alex Inglethorpe, Stewart seeked experience in the football league to further improve his development as a player. In the 2013/14 season, he was loaned out to Crewe Alexandra, where he made four appearances before returning to his parent club in the summer.
A year after Inglethorpe left the setup at Spurs to become U21s coach at Liverpool, Stewart joined the Reds on a free transfer, expressing his delight on social media, stating that it will be a dream to play for Liverpool. It looks like 18 months later, his dream could become true. He joined Liverpool after making 31 appearances for Tottenham’s U21 side, scoring once.
In his first six months of his Reds career, the versatile midfielder played for the club’s U21 side, where he has since gone on to make 14 appearances, scoring once and assisting another goal. His most recent game for Michael Beale’s side came in their 4-0 win over Morecambe on Tuesday, where he played all 90 minutes.
In January 2015, Stewart, along with Jack Dunn and Lloyd Jones, joined League Two side Cheltenham Town, scoring on his debut in a 2-1 win over Oxford United. However, his loan spell was cut short due to injury, and he returned to Merseyside having made just four appearances. Despite this, Stewart found himself back in League Two weeks later, when he joined high-flyers Burton Albion. The midfielder went down in history during his time at the Pirelli Stadium where he scored the winning goal that promoted them to League One on the final day of the 2014/15 season. Less than a year later, Stewart has gone from a League Two champion to a potential first team debutant in the Liverpool midfield, safe to say, it’s been an exciting journey.
The youngster then returned to Liverpool to take part in 2015/16 pre-season, but was soon playing against his Burton team-mates who he had helped get promoted. Stewart joined Swindon on a season-long loan deal after talks over a potential transfer to the County Ground. Yet again, his spell was cut short after suffering medial ligament damage in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Newport County in September. Overall, he made seven appearances for Mark Robins’ side, providing one assist. He was meant to be out for approximately six-to-nine weeks, but focused on building up his fitness and returned to action only three days ago.
Stewart is a versatile midfielder who has played most of his career games as a centre-back. However, he has often played like he did on Tuesday as a defensive midfielder, but can also play as a central midfielder, in the ‘number 10’ role and as a left midfielder. As well as this, Stewart has played a combined 15 games as a full-back, 12 games on the left, and three on the right.
It has been a long time coming, but after several injury-hit loan spells, Stewart deserves his chance at getting the chance to impress, as he didn’t get the chance to do so out on loan.