As a result of postponements following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Liverpool find themselves in the midst of a nearly month-long stretch without Premier League football. Add in a two-week international break and suddenly September looks very quiet.
There’s still U21 football taking place, though, and for deadline day arrival Arthur Melo—a player who was out the outside at Juventus and arrived well short of match fit—putting in the minutes while the rest of the first team is either on break or with their national teams is hugely important.
As such, Arthur was given a run-out with the U21s in the English Football League Trophy, or the Papa John’s Trophy for those fond of making the sponsors happy, and received positive reviews for his play before being replaced in the second half by Jay Spearing.
For those who might have missed the news over the summer, the former Liverpool academy graduate, now 33 years of age, has returned to the club this season as an assistant manager and occasional player for the U21s as he looks to begin a transition into coaching.
Tuesday night’s cup match—the trophy is open to the first teams of clubs in League One and League Two as well as the youth and reserve sides of clubs in the Championship and Premier League—was also a chance for pre-season standout Stefan Bajcetic to impress, though in the end the Reds fell 1-0 to Rochdale.
While the minutes were valuable for Arthur and Bajcetic, it will be a mildly disappointing result for Liverpool’s reserves given their opponents currently sit dead last in League Two, making them the lowest-ranked first team side engaged in the cup competition.