Liverpool defender Joe Gomez received the seal of approval from Stoke’s Jon Walters last week and has impressed manager Brendan Rodgers since arriving in the summer.
The 18-year-old, signed from Charlton for £3.5million this summer, was expected to go out on loan but, having done well in pre-season, was handed his Barclays Premier League debut against the hard-running Walters last weekend.
He acquitted himself well in the 1-0 victory and will make his home bow against Bournemouth on Monday as he continues to keep out Alberto Moreno, a Europa League winner with Sevilla just 15 months ago but who has seen his £12million move to Anfield turn sour over the last year.
“For a player of 18 to make his Premier League debut away at Stoke against an outstanding player in Jon Walters, with the experience he has, and cope as well as he did was impressive,” Rodgers said.
“I thanked Jon after the game for giving him that experience and he spoke highly of him.”
What is even more admirable is Gomez is a centre-back who has also operated on the right, so being thrown in on the opposite flank ahead of an established left-back speaks volumes not only about his talent but also Moreno’s short-comings.
“I felt comfortable (putting him in the team) as he had played games and was managed well at Charlton,” Rodgers added.
“I wanted to assess where his pathway lay in terms of whether he needed a loan or needed to stay here and very quickly he showed me he could be a really important member of the squad.
“He can play in many positions, centre-half being the main one, but he has the flexibility and qualities to play at full-back so he is definitely a player who will add great value to our squad.
“What struck me when I met him was his maturity. He recognises his opportunity.
“When he was 15 or 16 he had the chance to move to bigger clubs than Charlton but he wanted to stay.
“He then had a decision to make in the summer with a number of high-profile clubs wanted to take him but he felt his best opportunity to develop and improve was coming to Liverpool.
“He has got into the team and I am sure there will be moments along the way when we need to manage him, but he knows there is a lot to learn yet.
“It is about assessing and managing where he is at.”