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Mar 20, 2013

Rodgers: Sterling can benefit from U21s

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes teenager winger Raheem Sterling will benefit from being at the European Under-21 Championships this summer if he makes it into Stuart Pearce's England squad.

Sterling, 18, enjoyed a meteoric rise at the start of the season, making his debut for the England Under-21 side against Serbia in European Championship qualifying play-off in October before making his bow for the senior side against Sweden the following month. He then signed a new, five-year contract in December.

Sterling has struggled since the turn of the year and has made only one Premier League appearance, as a 59th minute substitute in the 2-0 defeat at home to West Brom, in the last two months. Instead he has found himself back in the club's U-21 squad.

That led to speculation that Sterling, along with fellow young winger Suso who has also dropped out of the picture in 2013, could be sent out on loan to the Championship with a host of clubs believed to be interested in a short-term deal until the end of the season. Bolton Wanderers, Cardiff City and Leeds United are all believed to have made approaches to Anfield.

"I spoke to Stuart Pearce because we have a number of England U-21 boys here and I don't think it would do Raheem any harm," Rodgers told the Daily Mirror. "He's had a good season and going to a tournament like that, if selected, will be good for his experience.

"I've had a number of calls from teams looking to take him on loan, but our squad is thin enough as it is, and he won't be doing that. We just have to ensure as a club we don't make any mistakes with his development. It is about nurturing the young players and making sure they don't have too many miles on the clock too early.

"This is a kid who he has just turned 18 and done brilliantly for the first team, and I don't know a player within that age who is playing regularly at this level."

Sterling looks set to play in the latter stages of the FA Youth Cup, which is for U-18 teams, as Liverpool look to win the competition for the first time since 2007.

"Micah Richards played in the Youth Cup when he was in the Manchester City side in the semi-finals so we will see," Rodgers added.

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