Marko Grujić is hopeful of having a “much better” second season as a Liverpool player and insists his strike against Tranmere Rovers will give him confidence towards doing just that.
The Serbian arrived from Red Star Belgrade last summer having completed a £5.1 million move from his boyhood club the previous January, but his first season on Merseyside was wrecked by injuries.
The 21-year-old was restricted to just eight first-team appearances having promised an exciting first campaign in a pre-season in which he netted three goals, including a stunning looping header against Barcelona at Wembley Stadium.
Grujić was again on the scoresheet as the Reds opened their 2017-18 pre-season campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of neighbours Tranmere across the Mersey.
Adding the second goal of the afternoon, towering midfielder Grujić curled a 25-yard strike into the bottom corner at Prenton Park and vowed to use it as a springboard for the rest of Liverpool’s friendlies.
Despite the disappointment of his injury-stricken first year at the club, Grujić explained that he learned a lot in training that has improved him as a player.
Grujić keen to enjoy stronger second season
He explained: “I started really good in pre-season as we know and then I had two bad injuries around the New Year. I worked a lot to be back, then I felt really good by the end [of the season].
“I can say it was a good year for me personally because I developed really good. I’m preparing for the second season which should be much better compared to the first one.
“This goal gives me more confidence for the next games and for the whole team we will try to be better and better.
“From my point of view I am now much better than when I came to Liverpool, physically and in football things as well.
“I will try to show that as soon as possible in the next few games and show all the members of staff that I am ready to play, to be in the squad and that I can help the team to achieve some nice things.”
Midfielder hopeful of extra opportunities
Liverpool will have Champions League football to contend with provided that they successfully navigate a play-off qualifying round in August, and Grujić hopes such a hectic schedule will afford him more chances to play.
“We will have more games. Three cup competitions, we need fresh players and fresh legs,” he said.
“Of course we don’t want them but always in each season we also have injuries to players, that’s how it is.
“We have to help each other as players and members of staff and we will try to do the best we can this season to go as far as we can in the Champions League and in the Premier League to be again in the top positions.”
Grujić admits there is "a lot of work" still to be done despite positives of victory
Reflecting on the routine victory over Tranmere, the Reds’ No.16 added: “It was a good match for us; our first win in the new season. [It was] Very important to win a game and then we go again tomorrow and Friday is a new game.
“We will try to think about the game against Wigan Athletic. Again, like last season, I scored in my first match. [It was] Nice to get a goal but a lot of work ahead of us.
“Tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll try to be better and better from match to match and to be ready for the first game of the season.”
Grujić also insisted that while pre-season can be a taxing time for players with their training regime, travelling and fixture schedule, it is a vital time for Liverpool’s youngsters to prove their worth to manager Jürgen Klopp.
He continued: “I think all of the young players like me and the other guys, we need these games to show the manager that we can play and that we are ready for the challenges.
“We’re looking forward to games in Hong Kong and in Germany as well and we will try to show to all of our fans that we can play.”