Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has challenged the club’s talented crop of youngsters to continue their progression next season, sending them the message: “It’s time to become a man.”
The 33-year-old watched on as Brendan Rodgers handed first-team debuts to seven Academy hopefuls during 2012-13, including the club’s youngest-ever player, Jerome Sinclair.
Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, were among those to secure regular playing time following the arrival of Rodgers as the club’s new manager last summer.
While keen to praise the contribution to the senior squad also provided by the likes of Suso and Andre Wisdom, the skipper insisted that there can be no resting on laurels in the years to come.
“You only get described as a young lad for a certain amount of time and then it’s time to become a man and perform on a consistent basis,” he explained to LFC TV.
“There is great talent at the club at a young age; the manager has been trying to get a young group of players together that can perform well for him.
“It’s a big season for a lot of players — you look at Sterling and Henderson.
“Of course it’s a big season for every player we’ve got, but I think the supporters will be looking for the young lads to step up now, try to push people out of the way and become regulars in the team. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what happens with those young players.”
Rodgers’ willingness to offer youngsters an opportunity for Liverpool has received widespread admiration, and Gerrard believes that knowledge is all the motivation his teammates require.
“The manager is fantastic with the way he does it; he invites a lot of young players down to train with the team all the time,” added the midfielder.
“It’s great experience to come down and play with the first team. When they come down permanently, they have sampled it and they know what they’re in for.
“I’m excited because if the young lads show the manager that they are good enough, he’s certainly shown to everyone that he’s not scared of playing them. It’s going to be exciting.”