Gerrard: "He's Been Brilliant"

Paul Gilham

With Raheem Sterling on top form, Steven Gerrard sees the young winger playing an important role for England at the World Cup. Most Liverpool fans will be more concerned with what he does between now and May.

For most Liverpool fans, the last thing they want to be worrying about right now is the World Cup and England's chances therein. Attempts to secure Champions League football and maybe even to push for more after a surprisingly strong start to the season; concerns over a thin squad and an almost mystifyingly quiet January transfer window; arguments over the best role for an ageing Steven Gerrard and how to fit Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge into the same starting eleven.

These are the concerns. The World Cup, not so much. At least not yet. As it turns out, nobody bothered to ask Liverpool fans what they were concerned with before asking Steven Gerrard to wax poetic about the place where samba meets two solid banks of four and what the chances are for Raheem Sterling to push his way into a significant role for England following a long-term injury to Theo Walcott that seems to at least assure Sterling of a spot on the bench based on his form over the last two months.

"I said to Raheem after the game: 'You keep your performance at that level and you are going to make it very difficult for Roy Hodgson not to take you,'" Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo. "Hopefully he can build on the confidence from his recent performances and finish the season really strongly. He's in top form at a fantastic time. I'm obviously very disappointed for Theo with his injury but I'm sure Roy Hodgson is looking out for who is going to replace him and Raheem's performances of late have been sensational.

"There are many candidates—Aaron Lennon is playing well, Andros Townsend, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back—but if you are looking at like for like, pace and threat down the wing, someone who can make, score, and create, then Raheem has got a fantastic chance. He's got all the tools to do it, it's up to him now. If you are a full-back you don't want to play against pace and especially when it's coming at you all the time. Raheem keeps going and going, even if he makes a mistake. He's a fit lad who is relentless and he's a team player too."

Despite a promising debut season for Liverpool, things started slowly for Sterling in 2013-14, with the 19-year-old lucky to even make the bench for much of the autumn. Soon, though, a handful of injuries and Victor Moses' abysmal form gave Sterling the chance he needed, and the young winger has since made it difficult to imagine he will be far from the starting lineup for Liverpool between now and May.

"You've got to understand his age," added the Liverpool captain. "He's learning the game. He's got a fantastic manager to help him through that. He's only recently turned 19 and you are going to suffer a dip in form, but the mark of a good player and how good any player is going to be is how they come back from that. To come back the way he has, he's been one of our most consistent players in the last couple of months. He's been brilliant."

The return of Daniel Sturridge plus the potential for an attacking reinforcement or two before January ends could curtail Sterling's minutes, but at the very least he's made a strong case for being first attacker off the bench the rest of the way, and he likely should be favoured to make the England squad following Walcott's injury. If he keeps playing like he has, it could even be more than that—though most Liverpool fans will be more concerned with how that helps Liverpool's chances than how it help's Sterling's England ones.

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