Brendan Rodgers has been quick to point out the risks of over-playing Raheem Sterling throughout this season following his break-through into the Liverpool starting eleven this term and his warnings seem to have come to fruition with Rodgers confirming, in the Express, it is tiredness that has seen Sterling “lose his zip” in recent matches.
It has been a whirlwind year for Raheem Sterling with the eighteen year old establishing himself as arguably one of Liverpool’s most influential players as well as earning his first full international cap with England, against Sweden in a friendly. Besides matters on the pitch there has also been the issue over Sterling’s contractual situation which rumbled on right through until January before the former QPR trainee signed a new five-year contract with the Merseysiders, whether or not the stress of this has further impacted Sterling’s fatigue levels we cannot be sure but it can’t have helped.
Brendan Rodgers has this year been quick to point out that the physicality and speed of the Premier League will be difficult for a mature player let alone an eighteen year old who at the start of the campaign was only seventeen years old. Sterling has this year given Liverpool a certain degree of creativity and inventiveness from the wide areas which is something the club has been bereft of even since the Rafa Benitez era at the helm of the club. With the success of January signings Coutinho and Sturridge as well as the ever impressive performances of Luis Suarez, the disappointing displays from Sterling in recent weeks have to a degree been hidden away however with Rodgers needing his side to really push to get into Europe next season there can be no place for passengers in the remaining eleven games of the Premier League season.
Rodgers has stated that if “Raheem Sterling doesn’t kick another ball this season then it still would have been a good one [for him]” this suggests that Sterling may find himself sitting out of Liverpool’s next couple of fixtures before being slowly eased back into the first team setup, and this is a sensible policy especially with Roy Hodgson needing to start making decisions on who will be in his plans for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. It would be a great shame if the same mistakes that were made with Jack Wilshere’s fitness over the past two years were to be repeated with Raheem Sterling.
Liverpool visit Wigan Athletic this weekend followed by a home match against Tottenham Hotspur on the 10th March, if Brendan Rodgers is true to his word then it may be realistic to expect Raheem Sterling to be back in and around the first team for the trip to Southampton on the 16th March.