Steven Gerrard concedes that he dares not go near Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling during training sessions for fear of being outmuscled by the diminutive but tenacious youngster.
Sterling has clearly toughened up this season, something he has demonstrated when utilised in the position of full-back, and his increase in defensive endeavour has resulted in more regular starts for the Merseyside club.
The 19-year-old has restored the faith shown by his manager with some impressive performances, most notably in the Anfield thrashings of Everton and Arsenal, and these displays own much to the work done on the training pitch.
According to Gerrard, the England international has established himself as the toughest player in the Liverpool squad, and he has urged the teenager to continue to show the application and dedication of this term.
"I don't go near him in training because if I do, there is only one winner," Gerrard told the official Liverpool website. "He's the toughest in our squad.
"He just needs to keep learning and listening to Brendan Rodgers and the experienced players in the dressing room and believing in himself. If he does that, he'll be all right."
Sterling’s league stats for this season stand at 21 appearances, five goals and two assists, while he averages 2.6 dribbles per game.