Reds manager believes teenager has burned out.
Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling is suffering from fatigue according to boss Brendan Rodgers.
Sterling, 18, established himself as a regular at Anfield after making his debut in August but has made just two Premier League stars in 2013.
Rodgers believes exhaustion is to blame for the England winger losing his ‘zip’.
“That zip has gone and it’s down to fatigue. Was that to be expected? Yes it was,” Rodgers is quoted as saying by the BBC.
“This is a kid we’re talking about, so we have to take a wee step back,” said the Northern Irishman.
“It is so mentally and physically draining, this league. It hurts experienced professionals and this boy has stepped up from the academy, played football and earned a contract off that.
“We have to nurture that and, at times, he has to have the mentality to keep learning.
“If he didn’t kick another ball this season, he’s had a good one.
“But what you are seeing now is more tiredness of the legs when before he could go up to people and take them on.”
Sterling has made 23 Premier League appearances this term, scoring twice, but had not played for the Merseyside outfit before Rodgers’ appointment in the summer.
The pacey forward joined the Reds academy from QPR aged 15.
The Jamiacan-born winger made his debut for England in the 4-2 friendly defeat in Sweden.