​In some ways, it feels like Rhian Brewster is about as old as James Milner.

He has been talked about for some time. His every move, development, youth-team goal, interview and setback poured over in the Liverpool media and on Twitter.

He has been shrewdly used in kit launches and club videos to both make him feel part of the club during his drawn-out injury recovery and, more cynically, to keep up the hype.

Rhian Brewster

Fans have lapped it up and the teenager is a popular gif in Twitter replies and in memes. His standing in the collective ​Liverpool consciousness is somewhere between wonderkid and team cheerleader.

It's rare that an academy player actually breaks through to the first team at Liverpool in this day and age. It's even rarer that they are a striker.

The last true forward to make a first-team appearance from the Reds' academy was Jerome Sinclair back in 2013. Six years on, the Birmingham-born player joined VVV-Venlo on loan from Watford, with whom he has made 12 first-team appearances and scored one goal.

You have to go back as far as Sterling and, before that, Michael Owen if you want genuinely successful studies.

Raheem Sterling

In the midst of a British talent revolution that has seen success across the globe at youth and senior level in recent years, Liverpool fans are ready for more homegrown stars to add depth to their star-studded first XI.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the Scouser in the team, but there finally feels like there is promise of, if not more local lads, at least starlets who have come through at Melwood.

19-year-old Brewster feels on the verge of his belated breakthrough. It might seem weird to call 19 a 'belated' time to make your first-team bow, but, as a contemporary of Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ryan Sessegnon it does rather feel like we have been made to wait to see what Brewster can do.

Back in 2017, the east London born Brewster famously won the Under-17 World Cup in India, alongside the above starlets, picking up the Golden Boot and Bronze Ball for his efforts. He bagged a header to kickstart the Three Lions come back from 2-0 down to win 5-2 on the night in Kolkata.

At Liverpool since 2014, he impressed with his goalscoring at every level and was put on special training sessions with Steve McManaman in order to fast-track his progression. This kid was quite the talent.

He was also mature beyond his years as a player and as a man, with his standout interview in ​The Guardian on the sickening racist abuse he had suffered in the game a show of his raw fearlessness and intelligence. 


Then, a horror injury for the Under-23s at the start of 2018 threatened to derail everything. Brewster badly damaged ligaments in his ankle and knee after a bad fall and was ruled out for a year, just as Sancho, Foden and the rest were beginning to become household names. 

It took Brewster well over a year to recover from the setback, but it is a testament to his mental fortitude that he did so at all and is now back on the brink, once again, of making his first-team debut. Throughout his difficult year, even as his career should've been taking off and his former teammates were winning senior England caps and starring Europe's top leagues, it was near impossible to find an image in which Brewster wasn't smiling - beaming an infectiously cheeky ear-to-ear grin that seems to acknowledge and delight in his still privileged circumstance.

Somewhat ironically, it is injury that now gives the teenager his chance. Last season's hero Divock Origi has been ruled out for a couple of weeks with an ankle problem leaving cover in attack sparse.

Brewster, who has not yet made the bench for Liverpool this season but impressed in pre-season, will undoubtedly be sat in the dugout on Tuesday night as the Reds take on Napoli in the ​Champions League opener, and could come on for a cameo.

The rickety and potentially inflammatory Stadio San Paolo is an intimidating place to make your debut. However, for someone who has been through as much as Brewster has already, it might be the perfect baptism of fire.