STEWART DOWNING and Jose Enrique have been urged to match the “desire and hunger” of Liverpool FC’s next generation – or risk becoming the next high-profile departures at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers is likely to keep faith with his youngsters when his injury-hit side travel to Norwich City this afternoon in search of their first Premier League win of the season.
Enrique has lost his regular full-back berth this campaign and, even with Martin Kelly set to miss the rest of the campaign, teenager Andre Wisdom could be preferred at Carrow Road.
The emergence of Raheem Sterling has meant England international Downing hasn’t started a league match since the opening-day defeat at West Bromwich Albion and failed to even make the bench for last
Sunday’s home loss to Manchester United.
And Rodgers – who revealed Liverpool will offer a new contract to Spanish sensation Suso – believes the experienced duo must follow the example of their younger rivals if they want to stay at the club.
“As coaches, we are not magicians,” said the Anfield manager. “For me football players are no different to plumbers, to joiners or to bricklayers; they are self-employed and us as medics, coaches and managers we are the tools that help them to be better.
“We will give them everything to help them to be better, but if they don't want to show that self-motivation, if you haven't got that desire and hunger to succeed then it can be very difficult for you.
“Stewart is a good guy and a good lad who came here for an awful lot of money. It hasn't quite worked out as he would want it.
“The big challenge for him now is that commitment to the cause to fight because he has the qualities.
“But talent alone is not enough. You have to fight for the shirt. We have seen that with a number of the young players and if you don't do that then longer-term you won't be here.”
Asked if Jose Enrique was in the same position, Rodgers added: “For sure. That is why you admire big players who stay at the top for as long as they can because it is not just what they are doing in games.
“In order to be like that that is what they are doing every single day of their life.
“But if you are not quite right in your preparation and you come in looking in for an easy life, pick up your money, it won't be here. We are a club that has to be fighting going forward.”
first Premier League start after an impressive impact following his debut at Young Boys 10 days ago.