Football

Rodgers impressed by 
his 'Rolls Royce' stars

"He has wonderful temperament and technique, and is tactically very good for a kid, having to get forward and then knowing when to tuck in as well. I was very pleased for him in the intensity of that game." - Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers (below), on Reds starlet Jordan Ibe (in red) - PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

- PHOTO: REUTERS

Brendan Rodgers praised the performance of his young players, as they played a leading role in extending Liverpool's long unbeaten record against Everton in the Merseyside Derby yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Much of the build-up to the 224th meeting between the two clubs was focused on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, as he prepared to play his final league game against Everton prior to his move to LA Galaxy at the end of the season.

Gerrard's performance in the 0-0 draw at Goodison Park was described as "excellent" by Rodgers, and the 34-year-old went close to winning the game with a second-half volley which was deflected over by Everton's Steven Naismith.

But it was converted-defender Emre Can, who helped Liverpool keep a fourth successive Premier League clean sheet, and 19-year-old winger Jordon Ibe, on only his second league start for Liverpool, who typified his team's performance in the eyes of Rodgers.

Ibe was recalled from a loan spell at Championship side Derby County last month and was promoted to the starting line-up after two substitute performances. He hit the post with a long-range effort as Liverpool stretched their unbeaten run in the derby fixture to 10 games.

"What was pleasing tonight in such an intense atmosphere was the composure of my young players," Rodgers said.

QUALITY

"Emre Can, at 21, was like a Rolls Royce at the back - he defended fantastically and his quality on the ball was very, very good. Young Jordan Ibe and the rest showed great composure.

"I have just been waiting to put Jordan in. We called him back because we felt he could really contribute.

"He had a great spell on loan, which is what you want from your young players, to get that experience, and he had an outstanding manager in Steve McClaren at Derby.

"He had a good time at a good club but it was time for him to come back and feature. He would have played in some of the cup games if he had been available and I had no qualms about putting him in.

"It was a brilliant performance by him and he was unfortunate not to have scored with his run and strike and he had one at the back post where if he arrived a fraction earlier he would probably have scored."

Meanwhile, Everton manager Roberto Martinez sees reason for optimism ahead of a midweek trip to league leaders Chelsea and a Europa League last-32 tie against Swiss club Young Boys

"I have felt for a while that we are starting to perform and showing signs that we can reproduce the quality we have and the quality we showed last season," he said.

"Obviously we want to win games. Winning at Crystal Palace (last week) gave us a lot of confidence and today's performance, from a defensive and tactical point of view, will also give us a lot of confidence." - AFP.