sport

Toure impressed by Sterling work

Liverpool defender Kolo Toure believes a confident Raheem Sterling will provide a test for any opponent.

The 19-year-old has started the last nine matches for the Reds, scoring three times, after taking the chance offered by Daniel Sturridge's ankle sprain.

It represents something of a comeback for the youngster, who began last season in irresistible form before tailing off in the final few months and failing to pick things up for the new campaign.

His second-half performance in the 2-0 FA Cup victory over Oldham, where he provided the cross for Iago Aspas's opener before having his shot deflected in by James Tarkowski late on, provided a glimpse of his talents, and Toure thinks the youngster is producing on a more consistent basis now.

"For me at the moment Raheem is one of the best players in our team," said the Ivory Coast international.

"I play against him every day in training. Every time I go up against him it's always tough.

"He can beat any player in this league with his pace and skill. He's very strong and compact.

"He works so hard for the team and this boy certainly has a very bright future.

"He's playing more games now and when you play a number of games in a row you get a lot of confidence.

"For a young player like that to be playing at that level is amazing.

"He always puts the effort into his training and always gives 100 per cent in every game.

"You can see the impact he's having on games, which is very important for us."

Sterling admits he is happy with his football and that has shown over recent weeks as his performances have grown in their effectiveness.

"I'm enjoying it massively and the manager has put his trust in me to put me out every week so far," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"Hopefully I can deliver on the pitch and get some more assists and goals for the team."

Victory over Oldham set up an away tie against either Bournemouth or Burton and Toure said even with a squad relatively low on numbers, an extended cup run would not derail their challenge for a top-four finish in the league.

"The players here are very hungry and want to play games. I think the squad is strong enough to cope," he added.

"At training everyone is working really hard - young players and the more experienced players.

"We all want to play and do our best and I don't think having a good cup run would have any affect our challenge for the top four.

"It can be tough if you are in Europe and you have to play every two or three days.

"Then you have to change the team but we haven't had that. We haven't had too many games.

"To have the FA Cup is really important. We'll give 100 per cent as we all want to play games."