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Liverpool academy coach Beale delighted with Stewart evolution

Liverpool U21s coach Michael Beale admits he has been thrilled with the transformation of Kevin Stewart.

The 22-year-old arrived at Melwood from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2014 as an aspiring full-back but now finds himself starting in the FA Cup as a defensive midfielder.

Loan spells at Cheltenham Town, Burton Albion and Swindon Town have seen the Spurs reject grow in confidence and stature which has led to the following words from a proud Beale.

"Kevin came here as a full-back – a bit like Flanno (Jon Flanagan) as he wanted to be a right-footed left-back," Beale told the Liverpool Echo.

"He could also play centre-half but that was never really his position.

"He felt he was a bit hard done by at Tottenham. In the first few months he spent a bit of time at Melwood and played for Brendan (Rodgers) in pre-season.

"The under-21s played Norwich away just before Christmas last season. Connor Randall, who was going to play in midfield, felt ill in the pre-match.

"I sprung it on Kevin. We hadn't worked on it in training, but I played him in midfield and he was outstanding that night.

"It took us back a bit. We thought: 'wow, we'll persevere with that'. He played four or five more games in midfield before going out on loan."

Regarding Stewart's return from his Swindon loan spell in early January, Beale added: "On the Tuesday he played 60 minutes in midfield on his comeback at the Academy and then 30 minutes at centre-back to ease him off physically.

"On the Friday he was playing in the FA Cup and had millions of people watching him on TV. You just never know when it's going to come."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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