With less than 48 hours between their game against Manchester City on Saturday and Sunderland on Monday, many Liverpool fans expected to see a fairly changed eleven run out for the first game of 2017, and a fair few predicted Kevin Stewart would get the start in midfield.
Instead, Jürgen Klopp only changed one player—the injured Jordan Henderson. And he brought on a striker for his first choice holding midfielder. Yet despite this, and despite reports of interest from at least five English sides, it appears Stewart is a valued squad player and not for sale.
According to The Liverpool Echo, West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City, Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Brighton and Hove Albion have all made approaches to sign Stewart on a permanent deal this month. Liverpool, though, have rebuffed all of them and insist Stewart will not be sold.
This comes following their decision not to sell Stewart last summer, when a £6M offer for the 23-year-old former Tottenham youth centre half was on the table. All signs, then, point to Stewart being counted as a key squad and rotation option for Liverpool and Klopp.
Yet that would seem to make that he didn’t replace Henderson on Monday something of surprise. Still, with two weeks now until their next league game, it seems clear Klopp believed his starters could manage two games on short rest and that the likes of Stewart could then be used in the upcoming cup ties.
Stewart will be expected to start at least one of those next two games, either against Plymouth Argyle on Sunday the 8th in the FA Cup or Southampton on the 11th in the first round of the EFL Cup semi-finals.