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Liverpool's Rhian Brewster out a 'good while' with injury - Steven Gerrard

LIVERPOOL -- Steven Gerrard says Rhian Brewster would have featured in Liverpool Under-18's FA Youth Cup tie with Arsenal had it not been for an ankle injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for a "good while".

Brewster suffered a high ankle sprain during Liverpool U23's match at Manchester City last week, having been stretchered off, requiring oxygen, in first-half stoppage time, with the 17-year-old continuing to undergo further assessments down in London.

Gerrard will take charge of his U18 side at Anfield on Saturday in the fourth round of the prestigious youth tournament and has stressed how seriously the Merseyside club will be taking the competition that they last won in 2007.

"I don't know the full extent, but it is going to be a good while," Gerrard told reporters at Liverpool's academy on Thursday. "I do not know the complete timescale. He has further tests.

"He was in a good place, doing well for the U23s and U19s and flying internationally. This happens to every footballer. You have setbacks, you grow and you learn from them as much as the good things that happen to you.

"He will be missing it and realise what a good position he was in and desperate to get back. Hopefully he comes back hungry and into top form as soon as possible."

Rhian Brewster leaves the field on a stretcher after sustaining an injury in a Premier League 2 match.
Rhian Brewster was stretchered off the field against Manchester City last week.

On the FA Youth Cup itself, the former Liverpool and England captain added: "Going back to when I was 16, 17, I was desperate to win it.

"It's a bit like the FA Cup at senior level, it has that bit of magic about it even at this age. It's the trophy all the kids want to win and I know the club take it very seriously.

"If Rhian wouldn't have been injured, he'd have been available for selection and that shows how the club is with the competition. It's a very important game and one I won't try to play down."

With Liverpool's senior side playing away at Swansea City on Monday night, Gerrard's request to play the Arsenal tie at the first-team stadium was granted, believing the occasion will replicate something similar to a first-team environment.

Gerrard and Liverpool are hoping for the fixture to be well-attended, with admission free for season ticket holders and tickets reasonably priced at £3 for adults and £1 for juniors, young adults and over-65s.

"I hope we get a big crowd, I don't know how many turn up but I hope it's big numbers because it will give them [his players] a taste of what it feels like for real," Gerrard said.

"Preparing for a Saturday game at three o'clock in an iconic stadium, with people turning out to watch you, that brings the pressures they will be under further on in their careers.

"It also gives us a chance to judge them in that environment because we need to know what they are like under this type of pressure.

"What are they like on this surface or with a stadium around them? Do they thrive on it or do they go the other way?

"As coaches we can't just judge them on what happens of a normal weekend when there is a few hundred people there. We need to put them into these environments that are close to the real thing."

While there is a heavy emphasis placed upon developing players rather than results in academy football, Gerrard feels it is equally important to instil a winning mentally in players at an early age.

He said: "I'd love some of these players to go on and play for Liverpool's first team. I'd be the proudest man in the city. But I'm not coming in and taking a job at this football club if it's just about that.

"If we're not teaching kids about the importance of winning at a young age then maybe someone should say to me: 'You're not welcome here'.

"That doesn't float my boat -- turning up on the weekend and it's just about getting one player to the first team.

"We're hoping these players go on and have a career here. I'm doing a disservice to football and the game if I'm saying to these that winning doesn't matter because it does."

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.


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