'Outstanding' Jordon Ibe staking claim to starting role, says Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes winger Jordon Ibe is staking a claim to start in his side's first Premier League game of the season after some impressive displays in preseason matches.
Ibe has been compared by his admirers to Raheem Sterling as he has grown up alongside the 20-year-old winger who made a £49 million move to Manchester City earlier this month, with that high-profile departure from Liverpool opening the door for another fresh-faced winger to make his mark.
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Rodgers was full of praise for the youngster after watching his him score a stunning goal in Liverpool's latest preseason game in Kuala Lumpur.
"Ibe has been outstanding," Rodgers said of Ibe, who made 12 Premier League appearances last season. "He has staked a real claim to start the season in the team. Wonderful goal, wonderful finish.
"He was very good and he has been working very hard. There are a number of qualities I think that he has. He will only improve."
Meanwhile, Rodgers insisted he does not feel he is under any more pressure than he has been in previous seasons to deliver success to Liverpool, despite suggestions that a poor end to last season means he needs a fast start in the upcoming campaign.
"The pressure is no different to any other season," he added. "When I came in, from day one, there was always pressure here to perform. This season is no different.
"There is no question that I was bitterly disappointed last season. There were a number of factors and reasons, but it doesn't matter, we were disappointing so we have to be better.
"The owners have been very supportive of me since the time they wanted me to be manager. I understand we need to be much better than what we were last season.
"I think it was hugely disappointing at the end of last season. For the first time I felt I needed the break.
"That week to two weeks after the end of the season was invaluable time, but if you want to improve you have to refocus very quickly.
"We have made signings and we hope they will come in and make a huge impact. For me the owners have been brilliant since the first day I walked in. I take nothing for granted.
"They have been great supporters of myself, they believe in my work and my job is just to work well with the team and finish as high as we can."