• Premier League

Rodgers hails 'outstanding' Sterling as Sturridge nears return

ESPN staff
January 8, 2015
Gerrard: I'll give everything until the end

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has the potential to become one of the leading players in the world, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.

Sterling, whose representatives Impact Sports Management are in talks with chief executive Ian Ayre over a new contract, is set to return to the starting line-up at Sunderland on Saturday after a short break in Jamaica.

Rodgers gave the 20-year-old a mid-season breather to reduce the risk of burn-out after a demanding 12 months, during which he established himself as a regular in the England side. He missed Monday's 2-1 FA Cup third-round victory at AFC Wimbledon, but will be available for the Premier League trip to the Stadium of Light.

Rodgers said: "Raheem is a young kid who has burst on to the scene and been outstanding. I think he's shown that he's one of the top outstanding performers in the most competitive league in the world.

"He's just 20. He's got a lot of years of maturity and a lot of years left in his football education. There's absolutely no question he could go on and become one of the leading players in the world consistently."

Sterling's current deal runs until 2017, and the club are looking to extend it in order to ward off interest from leading European clubs. Rodgers revealed in early October that talks were under way, and reports in recent days have suggested that an agreement is close.

Asked about the progress towards a new contract for Sterling, Rodgers said: "There's no update. That's something between the club and his representatives."

The manager also revealed that Daniel Sturridge is set to return to Merseyside on Friday after spending Christmas in the US undergoing rehabilitation on a thigh injury.

England striker Sturridge, who has not played for his club since the end of August, has suffered three injury setbacks this season but is set to return to first-team action before the end of January.

Rodgers said: "He'll be back in the country in the next 24 hours, which is great, and he's into the final stages of that rehab.

"We're looking forward to having him back. The work that he's done in America's been fantastic. He's been very well supported out there. He's travelled about to get some of the best people in the world specialising in his rehabilitation.

"He'll now come back and finish it off here. So we're hoping he'll be ready to come back into the team at some point in January, and help us achieve something in the second part of the season."

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