Harvey Elliott has already proved he can be a regular midfield star for Liverpool and his recent injury will not dent his progress, Stewart Downing has said.
The 18-year-old arrived at Anfield in July 2019 from Fulham as one of England’s most exciting prospects. Following a breakthrough season with eight first-team appearances, he developed on loan at Blackburn.
It looked unlikely that Elliott would then come straight into the first team after that. Still, he defied expectations.
Indeed, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp insisted that the midfielder enjoyed an “exceptional” pre-season for Liverpool and had earned his chance.
Elliott subsequently started the season strongly, before spending a lengthy period out with an ankle injury. He has since returned with six outings and Klopp is delighted with his progress.
Former Liverpool midfielder Downing played at Blackburn alongside Elliott last season. The 37-year-old explained to the Reds’ official website how Elliott has gone on leaps and bounds with Klopp’s coaching.
“He found himself playing in the middle, he didn’t do that a lot for us at Blackburn, maybe once or twice,” Downing said.
“But he took the position at the start of the season, playing ahead of some big players.
“You can see his ability for a young player, he’s quite mature for his age; the way he plays and his positioning, he’s not a young player who runs everywhere and is undisciplined, he’s quite mature for his years.”
Liverpool’s April defined by crucial two weeks
Liverpool face a gruelling April schedule as they seek to win a quadruple this season, but a crucial two weeks defines the month for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Elliott started three of the first four Premier League games this season before his ankle injury against Leeds United.
Downing added that Elliott would have done even better without the time on the sidelines.
“Going to Liverpool and being coached by Klopp before he went on loan is massive for him because he’s playing with world-class players every day, the standard will be unbelievable really,” Downing said.
“Barring injury at the start, he would have had a massive run in the team and you’ve got to give him credit for that. He’s definitely got the ability.”
Harvey Elliott firmly part of Liverpool run-in
Elliott made an instant return to the Liverpool team after his injury with five appearances in eight games.
However, he did then not feature for five games – his last two outings both coming in the FA Cup.
Klopp insisted last week that he is not managing Elliott’s minutes and instead the midfielder is in the battle for game time.
Indeed, the Reds are still in the three competitions on offer and are gunning for a quadruple.
Elliott has recently starred in the FA Cup. Although, it remains unclear if he will start the semi-final against Manchester City.
Nevertheless, he can still have a big impact in the Premier League as Liverpool rival Man City again.