BRENDAN RODGERS insists the career of Liverpool’s teenage prodigy Raheem Sterling must be carefully nurtured as he welcomed the decision not to fast track him through the England ranks.
The 17-year-old winger has been a revelation since the manager handed him his full debut for the Reds against Hearts last month.
Back to back Premier League starts against Manchester City and Arsenal have followed with Sterling grabbing his chance to shine in the top flight.
However, Rodgers is keen to ensure the starlet isn’t burden-ed with expecta-tion and has held talks with the Football Association’s director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking about the youngster’s international prospects.
Instead Sterling will line up alongside clubmate Adam Morgan for England Under-19s against Germany in Hamburg tonight.
“I think with young players you have to be careful,” said Rodgers.
“They can be elevated above their station too quickly. That is a part of it in this country. They have one good game and they get elevated into superstar status.
“You then see them at 23 and 24 and you wonder why they are not superstars any more. I spoke to Trevor Booking on the thoughts of where the FA believe he is at. I said, in my opinion, of course he has got the ability to be in the under-21s.
“But I believe in many ways it is right for him to go with the under-19s. He was involved with us (against Arsenal) on Sunday.
“He has met up with the England squad now and travelled to play in Germany. It then allows him to come back and recover well before our next game at Sunderland.”
Rodgers has been delighted by the progress Sterling has made since the start of pre-season when he was considering sending the youngster out on loan.
The Jamaica-born winger has impressed the Northern Irishman with both his talent and application but Rodgers insists nobody should be getting carried away at this stage.
“It is all about individual needs,” he added. “It might look great on the back pages that he is involved in the under-21s but the reality is that this is a kid who has made great strides over the last few weeks. He was absolutely fantastic through pre-season. You have seen his quality, courage and attitude in the recent games – it has been fantastic. But for the moment let’s just stay calm.”
Sterling and Morgan will be up against their new clubmate Samed Yesil tonight in Hamburg (kick-off 5.15pm).
The 18-year-old German youth international signed for the Reds from Bayer Leverkusen for £1million last week.
Liverpool trio Martin Kelly, Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey will be in action for England Under-21s today in Azerbaijan (kick-off 4pm).