Sterling set to be even better than last year, says Rodgers.
Brendan Rodgers is convinced that Raheem Sterling will have another big season for Liverpool, he told the club’s official website.
Sterling shone in the first half of last season, and earned an England cap at just 17 years of age, before signing a long term contract with the Reds.
An injury and slight loss of form meant he hardly featured in the last ten or so games, but Rodgers thinks this will do the talented 18-year-old a world of good.
“I took him out of that, he had a little injury at the end of the season as well, but I wanted to protect him and make sure he doesn’t have too many miles on the clock too early,” said Sterling’s Northern Irish manager.
“He’s come back refreshed, he did work over the course of pre-season and was back and forward from his holidays into Melwood preparing himself well.
“He’s now re-joined the group and I’ve got to say, I thought he was outstanding the other night.”
Sterling scored a goal in last week’s 2-0 friendly victory against an Indonesia XI, and he will be hoping to increase his tally of two league strikes he managed last season.
“He looks so fit, he looks sharp, he looks better than what he was last summer when I came in, and I think he’ll play a big part for us again this season,” continued Rodgers.
“At 18 years of age, he has so much potential.
“If we nurture that well and he can retain his focus and mentality, he can be a big talent for Liverpool. I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen from him so far.”
Sterling rightly earned rave reviews towards the end of 2012 for his wonderful dribbling ability and virtually unrivalled speed. The Jamaican born flyer is almost as quick as Theo Walcott, but seems to be technically far better than the Arsenal attacker was at his age.
The 18-year-old was brought to the Liverpool academy when he was just 15-years-old from QPR, and along with Andre Wisdom and Suso, broke into the Liverpool first-team last term. For large periods, the teenager kept £20m England winger Stewart Downing out of the side, but the arrival of mercurial Brazilian Coutinho meant Sterling could be withdrawn from the pressures of starting for the Reds at such a young age.
It has been mooted in the past by Sir Alex Ferguson that the stagnation in Michael Owen’s career was partly due to him being overplayed by Liverpool as a youngster, and Rodgers is clearly keen that this will not happen with Sterling.
If the player develops his enormous potential however, it will not be long before he is regarded as integral to Liverpool’s chances.