RAHEEM STERLING has the potential to become one of the best players in the world, according to England and Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson.
The winger has long been dubbed a wonderkid, with the Reds bringing him from QPR as a 15-year-old for an initial fee of £600,000 that could rise to a reported £5million.
Four years later it is looking an excellent piece of business, with Sterling this season stepping up to the fore with both club and country.
The 19-year-old was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award for his Liverpool performances and could be handed a starting berth in England’s Group D opener against Italy on Saturday.
“Raheem is a fantastic player,”
Henderson said. “I think you’ve seen that in the Premier League and even when he’s played for England.
“I think he’s outstanding, he has no fear. For such a young boy he’s got great awareness and his knowledge of the game is really good.
“I think he can be a big plus for us in this World Cup.
“He can go as good as he wants to go. He’s got a good head on shoulders, got good people around him, so he’s just got to keep working hard.
“I am sure he will go right to the very top. He’ll be a top, top player.”
There is a six-strong Liverpool contingent in the Three Lions squad that landed in Brazil yesterday, including captain Steven Gerrard.
His presence is helping the younger players to settle in and has boosted Henderson’s chances of starting the opening game in Manaus.
The pair have shone alongside one another in Liverpool’s midfield, meaning Henderson could next weekend make his first competitive appearance for England since the Euro 2012 exit to Italy.
“I think everybody has settled in really well,” Henderson said.
“There’s a lot of young lads that have come through together and know each other well.
“I think the more experienced lads have really welcomed everybody in and it’s a very close group.
“Obviously I’ve played with Steven for a number of years now and I’ve sort of got a good relationship with him.
“We are just trying to bring that with England as best we can, but everybody is gelling well and we’re gelling well as a team.”