LIVERPOOL winger Stewart Downing has advised rising young star Raheem Sterling to take on board as much advice as he can from team-mates and managers to help him progress.
The 17-year-old received a surprise call-up to the England squad to provide cover after the withdrawal of Theo Walcott and concerns over Daniel Sturridge’s fitness.
Having been a couple of outings last season Sterling has found himself thrust into the limelight in new manager Brendan Rodgers’ first campaign at Anfield and Downing sees similarities with his own career.
“Credit where credit is due, he’s a good player,” said the England winger, who missed out on selection for this round of World Cup qualifiers after ironically losing his first-team place to Sterling.
“He deserved his chance and he’s done well in two difficult games (against Manchester City and Arsenal).
“We weren’t great against Arsenal but I thought he was one of our stand-out players.
“He’s very mature for his age. He listens and he’s got a good future.
“He’s got a lot of experienced players around him and that is similar to how it was for me at Middlesbrough when I was young.
“I played with a lot of top professionals like Paul Ince and Gareth Southgate and had good people around me who could help.
“Raheem’s certainly in good company here and I think in terms of advice I would tell him to listen and learn and just keep doing what he’s doing at the moment.
“Take advice from the manager and listen to the players who are on the pitch on the day.”
Downing’s own focus is to regain his place in the starting line-up, having been used as a stop-gap left-back on a couple of occasions .
“I just want to play. I think for me it’s a case of being adaptable and playing anywhere,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“In the modern game you have to be able to play in two or three positions.
“First and foremost I’m an attacking player but if the manager needs me to help out at the back then I’m willing to do so.
“It (playing left-back) has been demanding. I was up and down the wing and it involved a lot of running but as long as you are involved in the game and get plenty of the ball you tend to enjoy it more.
“I played there a few times at Aston Villa but I played there during the UEFA Cup campaign with Middlesbrough (in 2005-06).
“I was playing wing-back, similar to how I have done in recent games here at Liverpool, so I think that’s what the manager has seen and maybe he thinks I can do the job there.”