Jay Spearing: who is returning Liverpool player-coach and how old is Arthur Melo replacement in U21s fixture?

Jay Spearing has returned to Liverpool FC after nine years in player/coach role. He replaced Arthur Melo in U21 Papa John’s Trophy clash.

The once former Liverpool player Jay Spearing has since returned to the Merseyside club and featured in Liverpool’s U21 match against Rochdale.

The 33-year-old replaced the 22-cap Brazil International Arthur Melo after just over an hour of play to the bemusement of many fans.

Arthur has played just 13 minutes of action under Reds’ manager Jurgen Klopp, after he was involved in the 4-1 defeat against Napoli in the Champions League and has been an unused substitute twice in the matches against Everton and Ajax due to him being not fully fit.

The midfielder joined Liverpool on loan from the Serie A club Juventus this year with an option to buy clause at the end of his one-year loan.

Previous to his encounter with Napoli, Arthur had not played since 11 May and improving match fitness and sharpness has been the priority for the 26-year-old.

The former Barcelona star started in Saturday’s Premier League 2 match against Leicester for Liverpool’s Under-21s and was given more game time for the same side on Tuesday night at Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena, before being replaced by the returning Spearing.

Who is Jay Spearing?

Born in Wallasey, Spearing began his youth and senior career with Liverpool. During his five year stint with the side, he was sent on loan to Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers before permanently moving to Bolton in 2012.

Spearing at Tranmere Rovers in 2021
Spearing at Tranmere Rovers in 2021
Spearing at Tranmere Rovers in 2021

Spearing made a total of 125 league appearances for Bolton between 2013-2017 and was also sent out on loan to Blackburn Rovers in 2015 where he made 15 appearances, scoring once.

His later years saw him spend three years at Blackpool where he contributed six goals in 105 league matches before spending two years at Tranmere Rovers.

During his stint at Tranmere Rovers, he was named as Player of the Season for the 2020-21 season.

This was not the 33-year-old’s only Player of the Season award, as he was awarded the Player of the Year award in 2012-13 during his time at Bolton Wanderers.

Spearing’s return to Liverpool

Back in June, reports emerged that Spearing would be making a surprise return to Liverpool in a player-coach capacity for the Under-18s.

He has also been registered as an over-age U21 player, hence his cameo in Tuesday’s fixture against Rochdale.

Spearing was a former academy captain for the Reds and will assist in coaching other younger age groups alongside playing.

Liverpool are one of several Premier League clubs who are taking advantage of recruiting senior professionals reaching the end of their playing career, with the idea being they can pick up players who will help nurture the next generation both on and off the pitch.

What did the fans say?

There was a fairly surprised reaction on social media when it was reported Jay Spearing would be replacing the Brazilian international Arthur Melo.

One fan took to Twitter to say: “Imagine 3 months ago I’d told you Arthur Melo would be subbed off for Jay Spearing in a Papa John’s game vs Rochdale.”

Another 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.”

Meanwhile one fan quipped: “Arthur Melo and Jay Spearing is a midfield partnership the world isn’t ready for.”