Sterling warned over 'laughing gas'
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Premier League and England star Raheem Sterling has been warned about his off-the-field conduct, after apparently being pictured inhaling laughing gas.
The 20-year-old, who scored a wonder goal in Liverpool's 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United yesterday morning (Singapore time), is seen in footage posted on The Sun's website apparently taking nitrous oxide - a legal high.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers praised his young attacker - who opened the scoring - for being "super-professional", but said he would speak to Sterling about his behaviour off the pitch.
Rodgers said: "For me, it is something that when you are a professional sportsperson at the top level of the game, I don't think it is something you should be doing. It is as simple as that.
"But I will speak to him about it, to see what he says on it. As you can imagine, I have seen this only today.
"We want players here who are super-professional and focused on their football. I know he is. He very much is focused on his football and improving as a player.
"As I have said before, young players make mistakes. As long as they learn from them, that is what is important."
The matter adds to the controversy currently surrounding Sterling amid a wrangle over a new contract.
He risked the wrath of supporters a fortnight ago by admitting he had rejected a £100,000 ($200,000)-per-week deal in an interview that was not sanctioned by the club recently.
Another newspaper also published pictures of him allegedly smoking a shisha pipe over the weekend.
Rodgers said any repercussions following the latest matter would be dealt with internally. He added that he did not feel the matter was a distraction.
He said: "You see the way he plays. He is a kid who is very strong-willed and strong-minded.
"He should have had a hat-trick, his performance was outstanding.
"I will speak to Raheem. Until then, it is something we will deal with internally."
Rodgers' sentiments were echoed by Sterling's former Liverpool teammate, now TV pundit, Jamie Carrager.
Carragher told Sky Sports: "It's just important he learns from it because Raheem Sterling, for how good a footballer he is, needs to be on the back pages, not on the front pages and that's a problem for him these last few months.
"But he's a young player, he made a few mistakes and hopefully, in years to come, he learns from them."
Sterling was not the only player to catch the eye, as Liverpool reignited their Champions League hopes with a dominant display.
Philippe Coutinho, playing centre forward in the absence of the injured Daniel Sturridge, also excelled as the Reds created numerous opportunities in the opening half-hour.
Newcastle weathered that storm and did rally before the break, with Ayoze Perez having a strong penalty appeal turned down.
Liverpool regrouped and secured victory with a second goal from Joe Allen after 70 minutes.
The win lifted them within four points of fourth-placed Manchester City.
Rodgers said: "The players and myself are very motivated to do the best we can, but we are looking for other teams to slip up and we have to continue winning."
Newcastle's defeat was their fifth in succession and means they still have work to do to ensure they do not get pulled into a relegation fight.
Their night went from bad to worse as captain Moussa Sissoko was sent off for a late challenge on Lucas Leiva that earned a second yellow card, although it might have merited even harsher sanction.
Manager John Carver said: "The sending-off, it could have been a straight red, I will be honest. I won't defend anyone if it is indefensible."
Asked if Sissoko could be fined, Carver said: "I am sure there will be some kind of disciplinary procedure." - PA Sport.
"He’s a young man growing up in the public eye and every step he makes is going to be caught on camera, on video. The lesson for Raheem is he’s going to have to be even more careful and even more sensible now."
- Professional Footballers’ Association deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes, on Raheems Sterling’s ‘laughing gas’ controversy