England Under-20 manager Aidy Boothroyd has urged Jordon Ibe to prove his worth at Liverpool, and to ignore any hype that he could replace Raheem Sterling, The Daily Mail reports.
The winger has been touted as a successor for Sterling should he quit Anfield this summer.
Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward has reportedly claimed he will not sign a new deal at the Reds, and the club cancelled planned talks with the player and his representative on Friday.
Ibe, who signed a new five-year deal at Liverpool this week, has been called up by Boothroyd for the Toulon Tournament in France, which gets under way later this month.
And Boothroyd believes the 19-year-old needs to forget any suggestions about replacing Sterling and focus on his own game.
‘That puts a little bit more pressure on Jordon. That’s the thing about the modern-day game – we are always speculating,’ he told Press Association Sport.
‘What I know about Jordon is that he is a player who is full of potential. He has got the opportunity at Liverpool and he has proved he is capable, but now he has to go one better.
‘He needs to be one of those players who is first on the teamsheet and you do that by working hard, regardless of anyone else’s contractual situation.
‘He needs to take care of his own situation to make sure he is right.
‘These young players have got exposure and what they have to do is back it up. Talent is fine but playing is the most important thing and when you look back at the end of your career the longevity, what you have done and what you have won, most importantly, that’s where you gauge yourself.’
Ibe has made 13 appearances for Liverpool this season after being recalled from a loan spell at Derby in January, having also gone to Birmingham on loan in 2014.
Boothroyd added: ‘I saw him a few times at Derby and he did very very well. He has managed to break into Liverpool’s team in a position where you wouldn’t say it would be his favourite. But he has done exceptionally well and managed to earn himself a new deal.’