Many supporters held onto high hopes that Kevin Stewart would feature more regularly for Liverpool last season. But the young midfielder, who seemed set to become a Jürgen Klopp disciple after impressing during the manager’s first season at the club, went into injury purgatory and enjoyed only nine showings over the passed year. An issue with a hernia troubled the player and in the spring Stewart underwent surgery to fix the problem. All seems to be clear now for the Englishman. But there’s still the working to get back into Klopp-tastic shape to worry about. And Stewart is making it his mission to get fighting fit during his off-season.
His goals for the next go-around are simple:
“Trying to break through, trying to stay fit, and trying to be ready for when I’m called upon,” said Stewart.
At twenty-three years old, Stewart’s output seems well behind the expected level of a regular performer at Liverpool. The odds of him turning into a mainstay in the team are slim. But that’s not what is on young Kevin’s mind. He needs to play and show the same steady progress that we saw from him after his initial introduction into the squad.
“Next season there are going to be a lot of games,” continued Stewart, “especially if we qualify for the Champions League. So, I just want to keep fit in the summer, work hard and then see where the season takes us.
“That’s the thing that keep me going. I’ve done it before, so I know it’s possible.”
Of course, his footballers path may wind elsewhere this summer in an effort to find regular playing time. Klopp insists on a high level of activity from his players. Endurance is everything. And the manager appears reticent to call on players whose stamina hasn’t been tested through repeated training sessions. Stewart will have to prove he’s fit and prove he can stay fit.
Taking into account all the star-studded talent ahead of him on the Liverpool roster, that road back to the Anfield pitch is a real doozy.
“I see the players I train with,” Stewart said, “and they’re amazing players I’m competing with and playing with, but I will keep believing because I’ve been through it before.”
Confidence can do wonders but Kevin Stewart’s position at Liverpool may be such that a return to the first-team is too long a reach. Even a full recovery from his injury problems won’t come with any guarantees as reinforcements are coming that will force him further down the who-you-gonna-call list. But Klopp is full of surprises. He trusted Stewart before, he may have plans for the young midfielder yet.