Joe Gomez plays 90 minutes for Liverpool Under-23s in Lancashire Senior Cup win over Burnley

Joe Gomez plays 90 minutes for Liverpool Under-23s in Lancashire Senior Cup win over Burnley

Young Liverpool defender Joe Gomez played a full game for the club's Under-23s as they beat Burnley 4-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the Lancashire Senior Cup on Wednesday.

Charlie Malam

Joe Gomez played 90 minutes for Liverpool Under-23s on Wednesday night in the Lancashire Senior Cup as he continues to step up his return from a 13-month injury.

The young Reds progressed to the quarter-finals by thrashing Burnley 4-0 at Kirkby Academy, midfielder Matty Virtue, 19, scoring a hat-trick and Madger Gomes scoring from 25 yards.

But more importantly, the game marked the first 90 minutes that 19-year-old Gomez has played since October 2015, due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury and then an Achilles problem.

His last appearance for Liverpool came in a 1-1 Europa League group stage draw against Sion at Anfield on October 1, before his season was ended while in action for England Under-21s just days after Jürgen Klopp had been appointed the club's new manager.

The teenager was close to return in July, only for his comeback to be further delayed due to an Achilles tendinopathy, which prevented him from getting back to training until mid-October.

He has since been building up his fitness, playing 45 minutes for Liverpool in a behind-closed-doors friendly with League Two side Accrington Stanley over the recent international break.

And the versatile defender - who even assisted Virtue's second goal of the night - joined Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori as part of a back-three and managed to complete the full 90 minutes this time around.

Young defender closes in on long-awaited senior return

Gomez will now look to continue his improving rehabilitation, although no first-team return is expected until the new year, as he bids to offer extra options across the back-four.

It remains to be seen whether the former Charlton Athletic defender will feature at centre-back, right-back or even left-back - where he began last season after impressing in pre-season under Brendan Rodgers, following a £3.5 million move to Merseyside.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Reds' No.12 acknowledged to that he has endured a "tough year", but spoke of his excitement at getting back on the pitch after "a long time away from it."

He also admitted that he has "got to be patient and build up my minutes" - with more run-outs for the U23s almost inevitable over the coming months, calling that a "part of the journey."

But there is no doubt that there will be a place in the squad for Gomez upon his return, even despite the Reds' sublime form - which has seen them lose just one of their opening 12 Premier League games.

After the win over Burnley, Gomez tweeted: "Good win & clean sheet tonight... glad to get my first 90 mins... thank you for the messages."

Meanwhile, U23s boss Michael Beale declared it "fantastic" to see the highly-rated Gomez play his first full game "in a long time."

He added: "Joe came through it fine and he had a big smile on his face at the end, which was great to see."

Beale also explained that he was "delighted" for Virtue to score three because "his form has been very good throughout the season and the goals have been coming."

He also praised Gomes' "excellent" and "really important" goal, on what he felt was a "really good performance from the boys."