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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Rodgers vows to protect Sterling

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he has a duty to protect Raheem Sterling's long-term career prospects by allowing him to recover properly from a thigh injury.

Sterling, 18, missed last Sunday's 0-0 Premier League draw at home to West Ham because of the problem, and will also sit out Saturday's trip to Reading.

Sterling has been struggling with a torn thigh muscle for several weeks, and Rodgers indicated recently that he has considered leaving him out of the team for the rest of the season.

Liverpool's manager has refused to rule him out until the summer just yet, though, instead choosing to keep a watching brief on his progress.

Rodgers will also decide over the coming weeks whether he feels Sterling can join up with the England Under-21 squad for June's European Championship finals in Israel.

Asked if it was definite that Sterling would miss both the rest of the season and summer international duty with the Under-21s, Rodgers said: "Not at this point, no. The medics wanted to take him out for a couple of weeks, just to see where he was at.

"It's been an ongoing one. He's a very young player, so we don't want to risk any long-term injury with him when there's no need.

"Of course, we'd rather have him in the group, but we've a duty of due care to him as a player. And when he's showing signs of fatigue and injury, we have to look at that and treat it in the best way possible. At the moment, that means taking him out."

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