BRENDAN RODGERS has warned Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe to avoid bad company.
The Liverpool boss spoke to the pair after they were snapped with shisha pipes, and a video emerged of Sterling allegedly inhaling laughing gas.
He told them to be wary of who they mixed with after a turbulent week leading up to tomorrow's FA Cup semi-final clash with Aston Villa at Wembley.
Rodgers said: "Well it [picking friends] was part of the message to them.
"Sometimes when you are young you give out the trust to people and then when they let you down, then you have to rethink it.
"When you're in the position that they are in, unfortunately they have to think about who they give it to early on, and if people let you down later on in life it does not hurt you as much.
"It is very important that they have that close knit people around them that they can trust."
Rodgers was supportive of the pair despite the spotlight it has brought on them, particularly Sterling who was already under fire for his failure to sign a new contract.
But the Liverpool manager could still have done without the distraction ahead of this weekend's massive clash with Villa as he goes in search of his first trophy as Kop boss.
Rodgers is hoping the pain of coming so close to the Premier League title last season and defeat in this campaign's Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea will inspire his side.
Rodgers believes there are plenty of incidents in sport of where coming second is the catalyst for future glory and says golf's five-time major winner Phil Mickelson is the prime example.
"When you get so close, whether it was in the title race or the Cup, it hurts," he said.
"And I always think if you trace back the winners in sport, if you look at everything they have won, I also look at what they have lost.
"You will see that they go close on a number of occasions before they go and step on.
"Mickelson never won a Masters for years. Everyone said could he do it, he didn't do it, didn't do it.
"And then he won his first one and then that gave him the confidence.
"In sport, that's how it works.
"I look at players who have won Champions Leagues and you go back and trace back and see they have also lost Champions League semi-finals and finals.
"It's all part of the journey of being a winner, losing but taking that forward and improving."
Rodgers was coy on whether Steven Gerrard will return to the starting line-up tomorrow after his three-game suspension, while Daniel Sturridge has yet to train and it is unlikely to feature.