Steven Gerrard has challenged Curtis Jones to consistently perform at his best throughout games in order to fulfil his rich potential.
Jones produced a moment of outstanding individual quality to put Gerrard’s U19s ahead in Wednesday’s 2-0 UEFA Youth League victory over Spartak Moscow, with that early strike taking his tally for the season to 12 in all competitions.
The versatile 16-year-old, who operates primarily as an attacking midfielder, has netted seven times in nine U18 Premier League outings this term and made his debut for England U17s last month.
However, while acknowledging his fellow Scouser’s strong start to the season, Gerrard wants the Toxteth-born teenager to regularly dominate, rather than decorate, games.
“He’s churning out some really impressive numbers. I thought he had some really good moments and really good periods [against Spartak],” Gerrard told Liverpoolfc.com.
“I think the challenge for us and for Curtis is can we get that over a 90-minute performance on a regular basis? Then he’ll become a top, top player.
“But the combination, the speed how he done it and the finish [versus Spartak] - he took it really well, and he deserves all the plaudits that come his way.”
Wednesday’s victory meant the Reds’ U19s finished the group stages of the Youth League with 15 points - the only blemish on their record being a 2-1 defeat in Moscow in September.
And that form gives Gerrard belief that his team can look ahead to February’s draw for the last 16 with confidence.
“As I’ve said to the team, there is going to be good teams in the competition and it is going to be tough. The quality’s going to improve and it’ll become more of a challenge the further we go in, but if you’re an opposition team you wouldn’t want to play against us,” the former captain said.
“When we are at it, like we were first half [on Wednesday], then in and out of possession we’re a challenge for anyone.
“We’ve got talent and ability in the team to win football matches and we’re capable of defending and doing it right so we’re one to be feared, I think, for other teams.
“But of course we have to make sure we’re on it now in every single game because there have been a couple of times throughout the group - Spartak away, Spartak here second half - where we’ve took our foot off the gas and you won’t get away with that further on.”