Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers knows Raheem Sterling can succeed if given a proper chance and put in a position to flourish.
Rodgers said Tuesday that Sterling, 19, can be one of the stars of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, if England manager Roy Hodgson deploys him in a familiar role.
“Raheem is an offensive player, a creative player who works hard,” Rodgers said, according to the Guardian. “If he is given the opportunity to play how he can play, whether at the point of a diamond or on the sides, then he could be one of the stars of the World Cup for me. Let’s not forget he is a 19-year-old who has been one of the top players in one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
Sterling showed a remarkable level of maturity in contests against top Premier League clubs, and Rodgers believes the experience will help his star in pressure-packed international games.
“He has already shown that he can play in a league that is not just a British league but a league full of world-class, international players,” Rodgers said. “His best games have been against the best teams — Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City -– so he is more than capable. If he continues to have that confidence and play with no fear, he could be a really stand-out player if he is asked to play that way. That is key.”
Sterling’s sparkling form over the last six months convinced Hodgson to include him in England’s 23-man World Cup squad. The versatile teenage attacker has played just twice for England’s senior team, but his stunning progression at Liverpool gives him a good chance of playing significant minutes at the World Cup.
Sterling can play centrally in an attacking midfield position, but he’ll have to beat out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere for playing time in that role. Sterling also is effective playing as a wide forward. He could partner with Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge should Hodgson surprisingly elect to play with three forwards.
England begins its World Cup journey June 14 against Italy. The Three Lions also will face Chile and Uruguay in Group D.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com