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Feb 6, 2014

Sterling reclaims his form, confidence

Raheem Sterling says his Liverpool career stalled because he was in awe of his team-mates such as Luis Suarez -- and that he needed his uncle to sort him out.

Kelly: Rodgers' style irks the old guard

The 19-year-old has rediscovered his form after his performances dipped during the second half of last season.

 Manager Brendan Rodgers says the teenager is more focused on his game after putting a number of off-field distractions behind him, including a court case in which he was cleared of assaulting a former girlfriend.

But Sterling credits a visit from his uncle, who travelled up from London to convince the winger he was worthy of a Liverpool place.

"I realised I need to stop being shy among the senior boys," Sterling told the Daily Mirror. "The best way of proving yourself is on the pitch. I had to be more confident.

"I wasn't confident enough to have a shot myself and instead I'd pass it to someone like Luis Suarez.

"I needed to be more confident again -- you have to respect the senior players around you but you have to stamp your own mark on the game.

"He [my uncle] knows my game and he asked the club for a couple of DVDs from last season when I'd played well. He wanted to show me the difference.

"Last season, I'd have beaten a man in two touches and raced away. Suddenly, I was going safe, passing to someone else. I didn't realise I was doing it.

"I just said to myself that I had to step up and start running at defenders again; taking responsibility. I've also had the chance to do that week in, week out. I can feel a bit of momentum now."

Sterling made his Liverpool debut at the age of 17 as a substitute towards the end of a Premier League game against Wigan in March 2012.

He became a regular last season, starting 10 of his side's first 11 league games after Rodgers replaced Kenny Dalglish as manager. The winger then became the fifth-youngest England debutant in history when he played in a 4-2 friendly defeat against Sweden in November 2012, shortly before signing a five-year contract.

Having struggled to maintain that form, he featured less regularly over the second half of last season before his campaign was ended seven weeks early by a thigh problem.

This season, he made only one Premier League start before the end of November, but has been a regular since, and is set to play a key role in Saturday's home clash with leaders Arsenal.

He said: "When I first came in, the pressure to win was difficult for us, but I think the big change for us is we expect to win now.

"We were never that confident to consistently do it. But now because of the level and consistency of our work we go into every game expecting to win, and never more so than at Anfield.

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