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Friday 15 December 2017

rodgers backs 'honest' sterling

Liverpool boss insists Raheem in right over tiredness row but says there's no rift with England boss

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has leapt to the defence of Raheem Sterling, but insists there is no club versus country row between him and England manager Roy Hodgson.

The 19-year-old forward has found himself pilloried in the last week after Hodgson revealed the youngster had told him he was tired ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier in Estonia.

Sterling was left out of the team for that match, coming off the bench to win the free-kick from which Wayne Rooney scored the only goal, which led to accusations he had said he did not want to play.

Rodgers totally rejected those accusations.

"I've obviously read and listened to a lot of what has been said," said the Reds boss, who went out of his way to congratulate England on their two qualifying victories - something he said had been lost in the Sterling fall-out.

"He (Sterling) has been absolutely incredible for me and what has been nice to see is his maturity as a young man; he's 19, a full international and he will hopefully be a key player for England and Liverpool for many years.

"This is a kid we bring up to be responsible and honest - lots of players will tell you they haven't played when they haven't felt right but this is a kid who didn't say that.

"What he was saying was he felt tired. I've had it a number of times here with Raheem where he has been tired in his legs but he has gone on to play in games and be exceptional.

"What you do as a manager is take on board all the information from the specialists around you and you make your decision.

"You have to respect Roy's decision that he decide not to play him and play Adam Lallana.

"What has been disappointing in the whole affair is it has been grossly unfair how the kid has been put on the back pages for something he clearly did not say.

"For a couple of days it probably shook him a little bit but he was brilliant in training this morning."

In addition to Hodgson (above) making public Sterling's comments, he also questioned Liverpool's use of a 48-hour recovery programme for the likes of the youngster and striker Daniel Sturridge, who has not played since sustaining a thigh injury in an international training session last month.

Hodgson said there was no evidence to suggest the two-day recovery plan worked but Rodgers defended his methods, although he stressed that did not mean he was at odds with England or any other country.

The pair have exchanged messages about the situation but have yet to speak directly.

"Roy is a manager with great experience who has been around the game long enough and all managers deal with situations different. I am not here to make any comment on that," Rodgers added.

"One thing to clear up is this second-day recovery: people are looking at it thinking Liverpool players are sat at home with their feet up on the couch.

TECHNICAL

"The recovery is different for each individual player but our second day of recovery is a technical session outside and the key in that session is the intensity and density of the session - the spaces are very small which still allows me to do the technical and tactical work required."

Rodgers will wait until the last minute to assess whether striker Daniel Sturridge is fit to return to face QPR tomorrow.

The forward has missed seven matches after sustaining a thigh injury on international duty but is on the verge of a comeback.

Defender Dejan Lovren has recovered from the abdominal problem which forced him to pull out of Croatia's squad while midfielders Joe Allen (knee) and Emre (Can) are fit again after time on the sidelines.

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