Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has cautioned against placing too much expectation on the club's youngsters to compensate for more experienced players coming up short.
There were very few positives to take from the 2-1 defeat to Wigan, the first in their history at Anfield, on Saturday.
One was the performance of 19-year-old Jon Flanagan, deputising for injured duo Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly at right-back, making his first Barclays Premier League start since the opening day of the season and only the 12th appearance of his career. However, it was the debut given to 17-year-old reserve-team prodigy Raheem Sterling six minutes from time which raised hopes among discontented fans who had been wanting to see him involved earlier in the campaign.
The winger, who played a pre-season friendly for the Reds aged just 15 back in the summer of 2010, became the club's third-youngest player and looked lively in the brief period he was on the pitch. But Dalglish stressed he would not have made the squad had it not been for injuries to the likes of Craig Bellamy, who has missed the last four matches.
"You just need to draw your horses back a bit," said the Scot. "He wouldn't have been there if we weren't in the position we were in. It is nice to see the kids get a game but it is also better for us to look after them and manage them.
"We are not going to throw kids in and destroy them, but it is nice to see them on the pitch, Jonjo Shelvey (20) also came on and gave us a bit of a lift."