Plenty of emerging players have been burdened with the near impossible tag of the ‘next Steven Gerrard’.
Jay Spearing, Jordan Rossiter and even Jack Rodwell have all slipped off the radar in recent years after promising starts to their careers.
But one of Gerrard’s disciples is taking the unconventional route to the top.
Conor Coady managed just one minute of Premier League football as a Liverpool player back in 2013.
A product of the Reds’ youth academy, the box to box midfielder immediately drew comparisons with Gerrard and the club had high hopes for him.
The irony behind the ‘next Gerrard’ label was the Liverpool hero’s sustained brilliance ultimately ensured Coady never broke into the first team.
A loan spell at Sheffield United was followed by a permanent move to Huddersfield back in 2014.
But instead of fading into the abyss like a number of Liverpool’s promising youngsters, Coady’s move to Wolves a year later would eventually help propel him back into the limelight.
At the start of Wolves’ dominant title-winning Championship season, manager Nuno Espirito Santos moved Coady from his traditional central midfield position back into a defensive role.
Different surroundings, but Coady quickly became fully ingratiated with his new role.
Wolves had the joint best defence in the Championship as they cantered to promotion – and they’ve taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water.
They’ve lost just once all season having faced both Manchester clubs and conceded only six goals in their eight games.
Santos has named the same starting XI for all of those eight games – a record – and Coady has been an integral part of their impressive start.
Now he’s caught the eye of Gareth Southgate; a man who knows what it’s like to make the transformation from midfielder to defender.
Alan Shearer waxed lyrical about Coady’s display after the 1-0 win at Crystal Palace at the weekend, leaving the 25-year-old humbled.
“It was fantastic listening to what Alan Shearer said, a big legend like him,” Coady said.
“I was sat at home on the couch watching it – I’ve watched Match of the Day all my life so I nearly fell off the couch to be honest!”
Southgate has a soft spot for Coady too as he’s currently the only English centre-back playing regularly in his favoured back three setup.
Harry Maguire, John Stones and Joe Gomez are all certainties under the England boss but James Tarkowski looked ropy in the friendly win over Switzerland.
An opening for Coady to capitalise on? Maybe.
His long range passing – in true Gerrard style – is his finest attribute while his positioning is improving with every game.
With Ruben Neves pulling the strings in the Wolves side there’s no demand for Coady to replicate Gerrard himself.
But it seems a formality now that he will eventually follow in his idol’s shoes by representing his country.
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