MAKING your Merseyside derby debut is always a steep learning curve for any player.
But Andre Wisdom would have been forgiven for thinking it was almost completely vertical after his experience at Goodison last Sunday.
Teenager Wisdom was forced to do his growing up in public during a harrowing first-half against Everton’s experienced Belgium international winger Kevin Mirallas.
It was the first difficult afternoon in a fledgling senior career for the youngster, who made an instant impact on his first-team debut in September when scoring a towering header in the thrilling 5-3 Europa League group win against Young Boys in Berne.
But so level-headed is the defender, he appears not only Wisdom by name, but with wisdom by nature.
“I know there will be difficultmoments but you have to take everything as it comes,” says the 18-year-old. “The minimum you can give is 100%. If you don’t you’re letting yourself, the team, the fans and the coaching staff down.”
Such an ethos has been drilled into Wisdom on the training pitches at Melwood every day.
And the Leeds-born powerhouse, brought to Liverpool from Bradford City as a 14-year-old back in January 2008, admits having the likes of Jamie Carragher to cajole him and Luis Suarez to pester him can only be of benefit.
“I’m very lucky,” he says. “We have four senior centre-backs that are established internationals.
“You look at someone like Jamie Carragher particularly because he played right-back, left-back and midfield before settling in the middle of defence.
“I watch everything he does and listen to everything he says. When we beat Norwich he was helping organise the defence from the bench.
“When they had a corner I stayed back and looked over and he was telling me to adjust my position a bit, then putting his thumb up when I was in the right area.
“That helps a lot. He’s played 700 odd games so he knows exactly what he’s talking about. I really appreciate it.”
Wisdom adds: “I’m also lucky that every day I have to mark Luis Suarez, who is one of the best in the world in his position. Even in training he never stops going. He has so much desire to win.
“If you do well in training, you take that confidence into matches.”
Wisdom, although a centre-back by trade, has been a regular feature at right-back since his impressive bow in Switzerland, one of several youngsters to have been blooded by Brendan Rodgers this season.
He is likely to be given another opportunity on Sunday against Newcastle United, with Glen Johnson still struggling to recover from the injury that forced him off at half-time against Anzhi Makhachkala last week.
Wisdom, though, acknowledges there is no room for complacency. “I know it’s easy for people to get carried away but I’ve only played a few games,” he says.
“You see players like Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard that have been here for years and years and day in, day out, they’re still proving themselves.
“You can see that by the intensity of the training and by the way they perform in matches.
“You can never get comfortable and content. Football is so competitive, there’s always someone else wanting your position.