Football

Rodgers promises Sterling recall after 1-0 home defeat to Villa

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed Raheem Sterling will be restored to the starting line-up for their next match after he defended his decision to rest the youngster for the majority of a 1-0 home defeat by Aston Villa.

The Reds were unable to break down the defence of an organised Villa side that took an early lead thanks to Gabby Agbonlahor’s close-range strike from a corner in the ninth minute.

Sterling, who played the full 90 minutes of England’s recent Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland, was eventually introduced for the final half hour of Saturday’s Premier League clash at Anfield.

Liverpool's Raheem Sterling (L) challenges Aston Villa's Tom Cleverley during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield. Photo: Reuters

The 19-year-old gave Liverpool more of an attacking threat when he came on for Adam Lallana but he was unable to get his side back into the game.

However, Rodgers insisted he was right to rest Sterling and revealed he will be back in the starting XI for Liverpool’s Champions League match against Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad at Anfield on Tuesday.

“It is a long, long season and it was an opportunity to give Raheem a break because he probably won’t have many this season,” Rodgers said.

“He will certainly play on Tuesday night. But I said at the beginning of the season that I need to trust all the players we have.

“We’ve got a big couple of months – a really exciting couple of months – coming up. Looking at it, I felt this was a game we could do that. If he didn’t have international football, it would have been a different case,” the Northern Irishman added.

“He came on and was bright. He’s going to be, and already is, a big player for us.”

Rodgers acknowledged his side lacked quality required to undo the Villa defence in Sterling’s absence but insisted he had faith in the other players at his disposal.

“As a team we probably didn’t quite have the intensity in our game and the speed in our game,” he explained.

“We’ve built a squad here and I trust all of the players. As a team and a squad, we just didn’t deliver.

“We’ve seen many games here in the couple of years I’ve been here where we’ve ended up with 15-20 shots on target, but here we just couldn’t find that bit of quality for some reason.”

Champions League return

Five-times European champions Liverpool’s focus will now be concentrated on their return to the Champions League after a four-year hiatus, with Rodgers desperate for a positive start.

“We’re going into the Champions League again this season, which is where the club wants to be,” he said.

“There is nothing better after a disappointing performance and result like today (Saturday) than to get going again on Tuesday night in a competition we love. Hopefully, we’ll start that competition with three points.”

Daniel Sturridge, who had to sit out the game due to an injury he sustained during training, for the England team watched from the stands.

 

Source: AFP, Twitter