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Arthur Melo plays for Reds Under 21 before being replaced by Jay Spearing

Liverpool’s Arthur Melo continued to build on his fitness to make his mark in Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad by beating the Papa Johns Trophy in the Under-21s’ 1-0 loss to Rochdale.

The Brazilian made the move to Anfield in the closing hours of deadline day, signing on a full-season loan from Juventus in a bid to ease the Reds’ midfield injury crisis.

However, after being frozen in Turin, the 26-year-old suffered from a disjointed pre-season that saw his fitness suffer and has managed just one first-team appearance since joining Liverpool.

Last weekend, Melo played 90 minutes in the Under-21s’ 2-1 win over Leicester and he continued his journey to full fitness on Tuesday night as the youngsters lost to the League Two side.

The former Barcelona man lasted 60 minutes at the Crown Oil Arena before being replaced by another senior pro who is no stranger to Liverpool, former midfielder Jay Spearing.

Spearing, who played 55 times for the Reds after progressing through the academy, is back at his boyhood club in his player/coach role.

Largely for gaining coaching experience, the 33-year-old is still registered as a player but many are still getting used to seeing him back in his old stead.

The move caused a stir on social media, but the move back to Anfield was one Spearing couldn’t resist.

“For the first few weeks, it was all about breaking down walls with the guys and talking to the guys, letting me on their side and trusting me,” Spearing said of his dueling role.

“Once those barriers were broken, football came easily and I started to build relationships with the guys on and off the field.

We are now working on individual things and helping them to get better. It was an absolute honor to don the crest and wear the red jersey again. It just feels like home and there isn’t a bad word I could say about it.

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