Adam Lewis' senior Liverpool debut was a fitting reward for the work he has put in since returning from injury, according to U23s boss Neil Critchley.
Lewis started preparations for 2019-20 on a high as he joined Jürgen Klopp’s first-team squad for the summer pre-season schedule.
The 20-year-old then continued his progress with a place on the bench during the Carabao Cup third-round win at MK Dons in September but, three days later, sustained a knee injury that kept him out of action for four months.
However, Scouser Lewis recovered and played in last week's FA Cup replay victory against Shrewsbury Town - and seeing him make his first-team bow for his boyhood club gave Critchley great pleasure.
“It was a great moment for him and I’m delighted for Adam because he’s someone that, from a personal point of view, I really like,” Critchley told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We have shared quite a bit over the last few years and he has had a really frustrating time this season with the injury.
“He was due to come back, he was fit and he was due back in with the squad, but unfortunately he picked up the injury again which was horrible for him. It wasn’t nice to share that with him but that is football and it is part and parcel of the game.
“He got over that and he got his rewards the other night so I was delighted for him and his family.
“Obviously, Adam had an idea he was going to play and that came around in unfortunate circumstances with Yasser getting injured last week at Wolves.
“I was really gutted for Yasser because he was in a good place but then Adam knew he would have maybe an opportunity to play. That was an extremely difficult decision for me as well because Tony Gallacher has been fantastic for us this season.
“That was a really special moment for Adam and you could see how much it meant to him. I was so made up for him.”
After the 1-0 win, Lewis revealed in a post-match interview with Liverpoolfc.com that he had picked up a knock during the first half, but insisted it was an issue that was never going to see him leave the pitch.
And that is an attitude and spirit that ran through the young squad that booked an FA Cup fifth-round tie with Chelsea, Critchley feels.
“I think it epitomises the whole team on the night, the way we attacked the game and the fighting spirit they showed,” he said.
“Our supporters fed off that - they recognised the effort of the players on the pitch and they responded to that.
“Adam, as well as the other boys: you’d have to have been seriously injured to come off that pitch, because he was desperate to stay on.”