Barry Lewtas believes Curtis Jones’s appearance at the Academy on Sunday is proof of a “tight-knit club” at Liverpool.
Jones was in attendance at Kirkby as Lewtas’s Under-23 side kicked off their Premier League 2 campaign with a 1-0 win against Everton.
Jake Cain’s early goal was enough to give Lewtas a perfect start to competitive life as the U23 manager following his appointment in May.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Jones had played as a second-half substitute in Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Leeds United in the Premier League and the midfielder was back at Kirkby to cheers on his pals against their local rivals on his day off.
“I kept looking over at him, I wished he was in a kit for the final 10 minutes!” joked Lewtas.
“But in fairness, I think it says a lot about the Academy but it also says a lot about him, as well. It’s his day off, he played yesterday and he’s down here watching his mates who he went to school with.
“So it says a lot about him but also a lot about what we’re like. All the messages from the lads who were injured on the WhatsApp, Adam Lewis over in France, we are a tight-knit club and a tight-knit Academy, so it was great to see him today.”
The mini-derby victory was also the first competitive game for new Under-23 assistant, Gary O’Neil, who moved to Kirkby last month.
Lewtas thinks the top-flight experience of the former Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Bolton midfielder will be invaluable to him and his young charges this season.
Lewtas added: “Listen, Gary has been there and done it.
“He’s been through the system, played at the highest level and he is someone who I can lean on.
“The relationship has been really good actually. The talk in the office has been about football over a cup of tea, so it is working great.
“Hopefully the idea is he can really support the boys individually along their journey. So it’s been good so far.
“As much as I thought the friendlies have been good and good progressively harder, there is nothing like the first league game and the first league game to be Everton.
“The lads have been good, they have trained really well and I think the environment we have here at the minute, the boys have come in, they have trained properly and their attitude has been good.
“So it was always in this one we were going to get it right through to the end for the full 90 but I thought we showed we are quite good physically. Hopefully we can carry that on.”
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Lewtas also explained the decision not to use Paul Glatzel after his goal in the 4-0 win over Huddersfield earlier that week.
“He’s had a long term injury, so he’s going to have a lot of aches and pains and it was one of them today where the game came a little bit too quick,” Lewtas said.
“And we’ve got plenty of games. Over the next few weeks, we’ve got Derby, Wigan, Manchester United, so we have to be careful with him.
“He was ruled out today so I haven’t kind of just left him out, but he’s fine.”