Despite the fact that their clubs are old rivals, Liverpool midfielder Steven..
Despite the fact that their clubs are old rivals, Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard and Everton striker Wayne Rooney have started to form a friendship which could well serve England well in the near future...
As the precocious 17-year-old's international career starts to take shape, so the understanding between him and one of the key men in England's midfield will become more and more important.
Gerrard and Rooney are both from the city of Liverpool and may well be in the starting lineup at the Riverside Stadium against Slovakia in Wednesday evening's vital Euro 2004 qualifier.
"We are from the same area...that is why the relationship has taken off," Gerrard said.
"Wayne is a young lad in the squad and I found before Euro 2000 that you are a small fish in a big pond. You need from people. It can get lonely spending so much time in your room.
"I've played a few rounds of golf, table tennis and pool with him. He has settled in. He's quiet off the pitch but when you get to know him he comes out of his shell a bit more."
Asked about the prospect of Rooney linking up with Michael Owen up front against Slovakia, Gerrard said: "Michael and Wayne are world class players. Wayne made a terrific impact against Turkey and he has given Sven (Goran Eriksson) a headache.
"They are both world-class players and Wayne has looking terrific in training," revealed Gerrard.
"Him and Michael were together for certain parts of the shape that we worked on today and they're looking very good together.
"When you see someone with Wayne's ability coming into the squad, it gives everyone a lift. I think the reason we played so well against Turkey was that he'd given everyone a boost.
"We've got to give it time as they're young and haven't played together much, but if the manager keeps on playing them in friendlies and big games, I'm sure it'll develop into a top-class partnership."
When Gerrard first broke into the England setup, it was Owen who helped him out. Now it seems Gerrard is stretching out a similar helping hand to Rooney.
"When you join in up at these get-togethers and you've got five or 10 days together in a hotel, it's a bit like a five-star jail," he explained.
"You've got to get yourself out and play some table-tennis and pool and socialise as otherwise you can get lonely. You don't want that ahead of a big game as you want to get the team spirit going.
"When he first came in, he was quiet but now he's socialising with all the other lads and they respect him.
"He's enjoying it a lot more now than when he first arrived. He is 17 but he's mature for his age and he not only looks like a man but acts like one too."
Gerrard also hasn't forgotten that help that Owen gave him: "Michael was a lot more experienced than I was when I came into the squad and he helped me out a lot. So I think that's why I'm trying to help Wayne a bit as well.
"It just naturally happened but I did realise that it's difficult when you come into a big squad of players and you're just 17. You don't know anyone and can't really just knock on someone's door.
"It's down to other people to help you out, as I'm trying to do to Wayne and Michael also did for me. You have to make sure he feels good and then we'll get the best out of him on the pitch."
by James Wright