Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that 18-year-old Raheem Sterling will build on his breakthrough season this term.
The young winger flourished under the management of Rodgers last season and was a standout performer for the Reds in the early part of last season. Rodgers gave Sterling opportunities in the first team that he required to progress and develop as a player.
The 18-year-old made 24 league appearances for the Merseyside club last season, providing two assists and two goals. His season was hindered, however, after a hamstring injury got the better of him, preventing him from playing for the club from November onwards.
Kenny Dalglish and previous Liverpool managers didn't provide Sterling with any chances to display his talent in the first team, whereas Rodgers saw how is ability could be utilised in the first team. And Rodgers has admitted he is impressed with Sterling's pre-season attitude and physical shape.
The Liverpool boss told The FA.com: "He's come back refreshed. He did work over the course of pre-season and was back and forward from his holidays into Melwood, preparing himself well.
"He looks so fit, he looks sharp, he looks better than what he was last summer when I came in and I think he'll play a big part for us again this season.
"At 18 years of age, he has so much potential.
"If we nurture that well and he can retain his focus and mentality, he can be a big talent.”
Rodgers feels the youngster can mature and blossom even more in the upcoming season, having acquired superlative Premier League experience last year. Sterling even earned a spot in the senior England team, making his debut in a friendly against Sweden.
Rodgers added: "I've been pleased with what I've seen from him so far.
"For the first six months (of last season) he was sensational.
"He ended up getting a full England cap, which shows you the impact he made at 17 years of age, and make over 30 (Liverpool) appearances.
"Towards the end of the season, there was a natural drop-off purely because of the youthfulness of him and also because of the pressure of playing for Liverpool and at the very top end of the game.
"I took him out of that, he had a little injury at the end of the season as well.
“But I wanted to protect him and make sure he doesn't have too many miles on the clock too early."
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