ARTHUR MELO continued to build-up his match fitness on Tuesday night in the Papa John’s Trophy defeat to Rochdale… before being replaced by Jay Spearing.
The 22-cap Brazil international has been limited to just one Reds appearance since joining the club from Juventus on loan earlier this month.
He has played just 13 minutes of action under Jurgen Klopp after being chucked on in the 4-1 defeat against Napoli in the Champions League.
Arthur, 26, has been an unused substitute twice in the matches against Everton and Ajax, with the midfielder not yet fully fit.
The former Barcelona maestro started in Saturday’s Premier League 2 victory against Leicester for Liverpool‘s Under-21s, and he was given more minutes for the U21s on Tuesday night at the Crown Oil Arena.
He lasted just over an hour before being taken off for Spearing, 33, who returned to Anfield in the summer after nine years away in a player/coach role in the academy set-up.
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Rochdale snatched a late winner in the 82nd minute after Tahvon Campbell broke the deadlock with a delicious lob.
Just two minutes later the hosts were awarded a penalty with Liverpool reduced to ten men after Oludare Olufunwa was shown a second yellow card for fouling Campbell.
But Luke Hewitson brilliantly denied Ian Henderson from 12 yards out as the scoreline remained 1-0.
Despite the defeat, social media was sent into meltdown with fans not used to seeing Spearing back at Liverpool.
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One Twitter user said: “Imagine seeing this tweet six months ago and wondering what the fuck had happened. Arthur Melo off, Jay Spearing on, for Liverpool U21s.”
A third added: “Imagine 3 months ago I’d told you Arthur Melo would be subbed off for Jay Spearing for in a Papa John’s game vs Rochdale.”
This supporter joked: “Can’t believe I was gonna put a bet on 2 years ago that one day Jay Spearing would replace Arthur Melo as a substitute in the Papa John’s Trophy.”
One then remarked: “Didn’t think when we signed former Barcelona and Juventus player Arthur Melo that I would read ‘Jay Spearing replaces him.'”
Meanwhile this fan stated: “Jay Spearing replacing Arthur Melo in 2022 for Liverpool’s u21s is the maddest line ever.”
Another simply said: “Arthur Melo and Jay Spearing is a midfield partnership the world isn’t ready for.”