Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has hailed his midfield partner Jay Spearing as one of Liverpool's best players this season.

The Reds captain backed the young midfielder to follow in his footsteps and become an integral part of the Anfield setup. Spearing received praise for his performance in the 3-0 Merseyside derby win this week and Gerrard believes the 23-year-old has improved hugely this season.

"Jay is growing, he's getting better and better and has a massive future at this club," said Gerrard. "Previous managers maybe haven't trusted that he could do it but Kenny gave him his chance and he hasn't let Kenny down. He's been one of our better players for sure."

The England international, who was overlooked for the Three Lions captaincy by caretaker manager Stuart Pearce, scored a hattrick against Everton but thinks his midfield partner was equally good.

"I think he's been consistent all season," said Gerrard. "Every time the manager has called on him, Jay has been superb.

"He was up against Jack Rodwell. People talk about him as a £25million player and England's future, well I think Jay more than matched him if not was better than him."

Gerrard will attempt to lead Liverpool back to Wembley this weekend as his side face Stoke City at Anfield in the FA Cup quarter-final.

The talismanic skipper anticipates a tough test against Tony Pulis' men but a victory puts Liverpool on course for a second cup final this season.

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