Gerrard The Skipper

Academy defender Anthony Gerrard is looking forward to leading the Under-19s out against Liverpool on Saturday, just days after skippering the reserves for the first time.

Second-string boss Andy Holden handed the 18-year-old the captain's armband on Monday night for the game with West Bromwich Albion and he was delighted to accept.

Gerrard, the cousin of Liverpool midfielder Steven, believes that the extra responsibility will ultimately benefit him and his fledgling career in the long-run as he considers communication to be a key skill, which he can only improve on.

"It's a vital part of your game, especially as a defender," he told evertonfc.com. "You've got to speak to all the different areas of the pitch: the strikers, midfielders, the other defenders around you and also your goalkeeper.

"As a person I'm looking to bring myself out of my shell a bit. You've got to express yourself on the football pitch and that's what I'm looking to do in the near future, and if I get kept on, I'm looking to progress further and further.

"It was a good boost to be made captain. You need confidence before a game and that gave me a lot, because I think the coach must think highly of you to make you captain at any level.

"It came as a complete surprise to me. I was knocking a few balls around and he came up to me and said: 'are you alright being skipper?' and I was shocked when he said it, but I said 'yes.'"

With Peter Clarke and Sean O'Hanlon on loan for a further few weeks, Gerrard is looking to make a central defensive position in the reserves his own in the next few weeks.

However, the Academy youngster admits that the next few games for the reserves will be difficult without his more experienced colleagues, but he is always looking to progress.

"For me, personally, it's been a good year so far. I haven't kicked on after Christmas like I thought I would, but it's still early so I'll have to keep working hard," he continued.

"There's a lot of opportunity in the reserves now. But it will be tough without the more experienced defenders. Peter Clarke helps me a lot when I play with him, so does Sean and I like playing with them, they're good lads."

On Saturday, there is the small matter of a Merseyside derby, the second of the season for the Under 19s and the defender is looking to restore some pride after the home fixture finished all square.

He concluded: "The 2-2 draw was hard when we played them earlier in the season. I think we scored, then they scored, then they scored, then we scored, so it was evenly matched, all derbies are. Both sides desperately want to win for pride and points."

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