Raheem Sterling to start for Man City at Liverpool - Manuel Pellegrini
MANCHESTER -- Raheem Sterling will definitely start against former club Liverpool on his first return to Anfield with Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed.
Sterling was booed throughout Sunday's Capital One Cup final by some of the 30,000 Liverpool fans in attendance and will expect a hostile welcome when he goes back to his old side.
Some Reds supporters are furious over his decision to turn down a new contract offer and complete a £44 million move to City last summer, in a deal that could rise to £49m.
Pellegrini would not say whether he would make changes to the team that beat Liverpool at Wembley but confirmed that Sterling was certain to start.
He told a news conference: "We'll wait and see the starting XI but one player I'm sure will start is Sterling.
"He's a young man. He's starting his career and knows how to deal with the pressure. He will receive the same treatment but I'm absolutely sure he can deal with it."
The Manchester Evening News reported that Sterling was man-handled by an angry Liverpool fan at an official toast following the League Cup triumph. But Pellegrini believes that top players must cope with playing in pressurised environments.
The City boss added: "I don't have any worries. It is important for him to play under pressure. It doesn't matter where or against who they play. I've 100 percent trust in Raheem.
"The way he played the other day he demonstrated that he worked for 95 minutes, always concentrating on the game. He was very difficult one-on-one. I can understand that he can play under pressure. Players that cannot play in difficult environments will never be a top player."
Meanwhile, Pellegrini would not reveal whether first-choice keeper Joe Hart would replace Wembley hero Willy Caballero, who saved three spot kicks to help City to glory.
Asked if it was tough choice to choose between the keepers, Pellegrini said: "Hard decision? It's a very easy decision. But we'll see tomorrow the starting XI."
Yaya Toure, who scored the winning penalty, will face a fitness test ahead of the game at Anfield after picking up a knock in the win at the weekend.
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him @jonnysmiffy.