Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard impressed with meteoric rise of Raheem Sterling

 

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has hailed the sensational impact of youngster Raheem Sterling, whom he believes can go "all the way to the top".

The 17-year-old became the Reds' second-youngest scorer in the Premier League after Michael Owen with the only goal - his first senior one for the club - in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Reading.

Gerrard knows a thing or too about breaking into Liverpool's first team as a precocious teenager, having done so himself aged 18 in 1998.

"I think he has been a great surprise to everyone; not that he is doing so well at this level but I don't think anyone expected him to break through so early," the 32-year-old said.

"I think we all knew he was going to be good enough to play for the first team but when they are young and small and that size sometimes you need to take a little bit extra care.

"They get used towards the end of the season to give them a taste but the manager has come in, seen what he has done in pre-season and said he is ready now.

"He hasn't let anyone down and he's been sensational so far.

"First and foremost he has the trust of the manager. He is the one who picks the team and week in, week out he is getting a start.

"That is what you need when you break through, you need the manager to believe in you because sometimes it is hard to play well every game.

"When you don't play well the manager keeps playing you and he's telling you that you are ready for this level, you're going to be around for a long time so get out and do your stuff and that is what he did against Reading.

"If he can add assists and goals to his game the more he grows he can go all the way to the top."

Sterling, who joined Liverpool as a 15-year-old from QPR, is still so young the club are shielding him from media interviews, at least until his 18th birthday in December.

So the youngster expressed his thoughts about his first senior Liverpool goal on Twitter, saying: "Great day for me and my family to score for such a big club. One of the happiest days of my life."

Had his team-mates been sharper up front a first home league win of season would have been put beyond doubt long before the end.

"The frustration was in not killing the game off really," added Gerrard. "We haven't had a win at Anfield for such a long time we got a bit nervous and edgy, but the only thing we deserved was the three points.

"We have to build on it, it is as simple as that. This is only a good result if we can get a result in the derby (at Everton) next week."

PA

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