Michael Owen believes that Brendan Rodgers made the correct move to give Raheem Sterling a mid-season break and that he will come back even stronger.
Sterling has been Liverpool's most valuable player so far this campaign and played more football than any of his team-mates, operating both as a winger and a centre-forward. The England international has been in excellent form, scoring six goals in all competitions, including four in the Premier League.
However, there has been a fear-factor of the 20-year-old suffering from "burn-out" due to playing so much football at such a young age.
Owen had a similar profile when he was at the early stages of his career and played 36 league games during the 1997-98 season when he was just 18. Subsequently, the Cheshire-native suffered a string of long-term injuries that lead to him retiring at just 33.
And the ex-Real Madrid striker feels that Rodgers allowing Sterling to take a holiday half-way through the season has been the best thing to allow the youngster to regain his fitness and flourish for the second-half of the season.
"The whole point of giving him the break, halfway through the season, was to preserve him and to keep him fresh and lively because it's going to be a big end to the season," Owen told Liverpoolfc.com.
"Liverpool are competing in virtually every competition and there's going to be loads of games to be played, so I think Brendan Rodgers needs a fresh team going into those games.
"No-one needs to be fresher than Raheem Sterling. Just the very fact of how he plays with his explosive speed. It takes far more out of a player when you have that speed.
"No-one needs to be fresher than Raheem Sterling. Just the very fact of how he plays with his explosive speed. It takes far more out of a player when you have that speed"
"Big exertions take plenty out of you and he probably needed a break. Brendan has done the right thing in giving him a break at some point.
"Fortunately, results have gone for Liverpool in the meantime. They have not missed him too much."
"I think he's still got more to come, I really do.
"I think in the future he'll probably revert back to one of the wider positions or the No.10 role in behind a No.9."I think that would be his best position. I really like him when he's running at players and facing the goal, as opposed to playing with his back to goal as a No.9.
"He's done the job really well. I think he can go on to be a real world-class player. He's got one or two bits of his game that he still needs to improve, but he's got so much going for him.
"If you're looking around at the Liverpool team at the moment, he's certainly one of the shining lights that Liverpool have to protect for the future."
Sterling has indeed been in top form for the Reds this campaign. With the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and the injury of Daniel Sturridge, it has been the former QPR man who has really stepped up to the plate.
At the beginning of the season, Rodgers's side were in disarray and took just 14 points from their opening ten games. However, Sterling shone in most of those games, offering his side a lifeline by making things happen, using his pace and trickery to menace defenders.
In the Reds' 3-2 away win over QPR, the youngster practically carried his team on his shoulders and was directly involved in all three of Liverpool's goals, including bagging one himself.
In the latter stages of 2014, Rodgers put all faith in him to play as a lone-striker, replacing the under-fire Mario Balotelli. It was a successful move from the Northern Irishman, as Sterling's pace and movement off the ball brought the best out of Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho.
Some were critical of the Liverpool boss allowing the number. 31 to take a holiday mid-season, missing games against AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup and Sunderland in the Premier League.
However, the Merseyside outfit did just fine without him, winning both games and looked particularly comfortable against the Black Cats.
Big Season Ahead
If Liverpool are to end this term with a flurry of success, Sterling will be key to the uphill task. The Reds are still in the League Cup, where they meet Chelsea in the semi-final over two legs later this month.
They are also contesting in the FA Cup and the Europa League, as well as pushing for a top-four finish in the top flight. If the five-time European Cup winners are to challenge for every piece of silverware, as well as a Champions League finish, there will be an awful lot of games.
Sterling, being key to the side, will prove vital in doing so. He will have to be in the right mindset to aid his side and his body will have to be in prime condition.
It may mean he will be dropped to the bench from time to time to have a short rest, however, Sterling will no doubt will be firmly placed in Rodgers' blueprint's from now until the end of the season.
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