STEVEN GERRARD admits the influx of foreign talent has made it harder than ever to remain at the peak of his powers in the Premier League – and cannot wait for his predecessor to emerge from the ranks at Liverpool.
Gerrard made his landmark 600th appearance in the 1-1 Premier League draw against Newcastle United at Anfield on Sunday.
The 32-year-old has shown no signs of letting up this season, with no player having made more outings for Liverpool than the skipper.
But Gerrard concedes the metropolitan nature of modern-day English football has made it increasingly testing for seasoned homegrown talent to adapt.
“I think it has become more difficult,” said the Liverpool skipper. “It's become more physical, quicker and the standard has got better.
“Each year as I have gone along in the Premier League, the league has improved and become harder.
“You have to make more sacrifices, you have to practise more, learn more and you have to adapt to the standard because the foreign players who come into our game each year become better and better.
“Being a British player you have to adapt and improve.
“I've had to change in order to be the player I want to be, to be as consistent as I can and to contribute to the team.
“I've had to improve each year and put more time in on the training ground.”
New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given a chance to a number of youngsters this season, including Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom.
And Gerrard is taking great encouragement from helping the club’s next generation come through the ranks.
“When you are coming to the latter stages of your career, you want to see young people who are good at playing football coming through,” he said.
“It's only going to be a matter of time before I'm back in the stands watching and supporting the team and I would love nothing better than to see a new Jamie Carragher or a new Steven Gerrard breaking through, someone who I can watch for the next 10 or 15 years.
“I'd tell him to enjoy it. I'd tell him a football career is not just about ups, it's about ups and downs and you learn more from the downs than you do from the ups.
“Enjoy every minute of it. It's a great career and I wouldn't change it or swap it for anything in the world, I'm in a really privileged position.”