Rodgers follows Sterling blueprint by blooding Ibe in Reds line-up
Liverpool’s rejuvenated run of domestic form has propelled them to within two points of the Premier League’s top four places, with English star forward Raheem Sterling playing a vital role in their recent revival.
However, it’s the wonderful winger’s fellow youngster Jordon Ibe who has been displaying flashes of future brilliance in previous weeks, as the Reds, who are 7/4 favourites with Coral to win the FA Cup, aim to finish the season strongly.
Similar to Sterling in his attacking style of play and a utilisation in an unfamiliar position this term, in-form Ibe has captured the attention of the Anfield faithful with his delightful displays and gained several high-profile admirers.
The 19-year-old has established himself as a first-team regular under Northern Irish boss Brendan Rodgers, after returning from a loan spell with Championship leaders Derby County in January.
Despite beginning his career as a typically pacey forward, Ibe has been deployed as a right wing back in many recent fixtures, including the Reds’ impressive 2-0 triumph over fellow top four hopefuls Southampton.
This versatile wideman has shown great maturity since his return to Anfield, proving to Reds manager Rodgers that he has the tactical awareness and understanding to deputise in crucial domestic clashes, even in an unusual wing back role.
Although playing regularly out of a favoured attacking position, Ibe has had no complaints, making six Liverpool appearances so far this year, having netted five goals for the Rams before January.
Victory over Ronald Koeman’s Saints was a fourth consecutive in all competitions for their Reds, which also moved them up into the Premier League’s top six, with Ibe having featured in three of those triumphs.
Liverpool’s impressive youngster became the youngest ever Football League scorer in 2011, after striking a stunning solo goal against Sheffield Wednesday for his former employers Wycombe Wanderers.
Further ferocious performances then led Rodgers to snap him up quickly for a mere £750k, beating Manchester City to his signature, after reportedly being promised a clear pathway into the first-team.
Ibe’s rise to prominence on the red half of Merseyside has been a similar journey to that of Sterling. Being preferred to in the right wing back role ahead of Spanish loan signing Javi Manquillo, who is a more natural option threre, shows Liverpool lacking a strong base of players in that position.
Superb Sterling was handed his first-team debut by Kenny Dalglish towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign, but the Reds’ new shining star Ibe has been introduced for his own a lot earlier in this current campaign, and repaying his manager’s faith with strong showings in each earned outing.
Comparisons will continue to be made as the new Anfield attacking starlet earns glowing praises with each passing Premier League appearance.
Ibe’s team are chasing a top four place and are 15/8 to clinch a Champions League spot this term.