Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard has moved to praise youngster Raheem Sterling, after the 17 year old forward's goal gave the Reds a first home league win of the season.
"I think Raheem has been a great surprise to everyone. Not that he's doing so well at this level - as we always knew he was going to be good enough to play for the first team - but I don't think anyone expected him to break through so early," the veteran midfielder explained to Liverpool Echo.
Sterling was brought into the Anfield club's first team this summer and has immediately set about proving his manager, Brendan Rodgers, right. The youngster has made 15 appearances for the club this season and the winning goal against Reading was a good example of why he is so highly rated. Rodgers, who took over at Merseyside this summer, earlier spoke on the youngster's movement and tactical awareness.
The season has also seen Sterling achieve two other notable landmarks - he made his European debut for the club against FC Gomel, in a UEFA Europa League qualifying match against FC Gomel, and made a first ever appearance for the England U21 side, in the UEFA European Under-21 Championships qualifying games against Serbia. In addition, Sterling was also called up to the England senior squad for the first time, for the World Cup qualifying match against Ukraine. However, he was an unused substitute for the game, meaning he still has to earn his first senior cap... that, however, is surely only a matter of time.
"When they are young and small sometimes they get eased in towards the end of a season to give them a taste. But the new manager has come in, seen what he's done in pre-season and said 'yeah, he's ready now'. He's given him his chance and Raheem's not let anyone down. He's been sensational so far," Gerrard explained, adding, "We all know he's exciting, that he can run at players and if he gets in one on one situations he's deadly. If he can add goals and assists to his game as he grows then he can go all the way to the top."
Liverpool's first home win of the season, however, does not change the fact the Reds are struggling in the league. Gerrard and his side are 12th in the table, with nine points from eight games and only five above Southampton in the last relegation spot. The Northern Irishman's next headache, though, will be the Europa League game on 25 October - the visit of Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.