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Monday, September 10, 2012
Gerrard: Give Raheem time

ESPN staff

Steven Gerrard has called on the press and public to avoid building up the hype around Liverpool team-mate Raheem Sterling after the 17-year-old was called up to the England squad to face Ukraine.

• England call on youngsters

Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore were added to Roy Hodgson's squad after Theo Walcott withdrew through illness on Monday morning. There are also doubts about Daniel Sturridge's fitness for the game after the Chelsea forward skipped training with stomach cramps.

Sterling's rise has been meteoric since the start of the season, with Brendan Rodgers promoting the teenager to the Reds' starting line-up and Stuart Pearce showing interest in bringing him into the Under-21 fold.

Rodgers successfully talked the FA out of moving him out of the Under-19 squad for fear that it might all be too much too soon for the young forward, and Gerrard echoed his club manager's sentiments ahead of Tuesday's second World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

"I think the important thing is that you guys [the press] are patient with them as well and we don't try and rush them," said the England captain. "They've got all the tools to become fantastic young players but let's not build them up and put too much pressure on them, let them progress and become good players naturally.

"I am the same when I watch these players. I play with Raheem every day and he excites me every day, so I get carried away at times as well. They're only young boys, they've got many years ahead of them and they are going to become fantastic players but it's important we don't build them up too soon."

Roy Hodgson made it clear that Sterling in particular is not likely to play at Wembley, but would benefit from some exposure to life with the senior squad, experience Gerrard believes will stand his club team-mate in good stead.

"I think he deserves this call-up. I think the impact he's made has been sensational really. He's been one of our shining lights. The results that we've had this season haven't really been good enough but he's still stood up, his performances have been really good.

"The important thing now is that he keeps his feet on the ground, he keeps learning and keeps trying to find the consistency in his game. I think it won't be very long before he's in this set-up for real, where the manager's going to be picking him as a regular, because he is that kind of talent."

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