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Sterling, Allen to return for Reds

Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen are set to make comebacks from injury when Liverpool begin their pre-season programme at Preston North End on Saturday.

• Walsh: Time to stop listening

Winger Sterling, 18, sat out the final seven matches of last season with a thigh problem that also forced him to pull out of the England squad for the Under-21 European Championships in Israel.

Midfielder Allen, 23, struggled with a shoulder problem for much of the campaign and underwent surgery in March.

Both players are back in full training and are ready to play a part for manager Brendan Rodgers at Deepdale on Saturday.

"Raheem has looked great," Rodgers told Liverpool's website. "These are players that are coming back and have looked very good in the early parts of training."

Central defender Martin Kelly, 23, is also close to a return from cruciate knee ligament damage sustained during the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United last September.

"With Martin Kelly, we just need to assess to see how and where Martin is at," Rodgers added. "He has obviously worked very hard to get back fit. He has been involved in a lot of the sessions so far. We just need to assess that to see whether Saturday will be the right game for him to come in."

Captain Steven Gerrard is not quite ready to return against Preston, having only just returned to full training after missing the final two games of last season to have a shoulder operation.

Gerrard, 33, is expected to figure on Liverpool's tour of the Far East and Australia, which begins with a match against an Indonesia XI in Jakarta on July 20.

Striker Daniel Sturridge is a doubt for the tour as he continues to recover from an ankle injury sustained during England's 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland on May 29.

The 23-year-old has yet to resume training, although Liverpool remain confident that he will be fit for their opening Premier League fixture against Stoke at Anfield on August 17.

Luis Suarez is currently on a break, having been on summer duty with Uruguay at the Confederations Cup in Brazil, although Rodgers maintains he is in contact with the striker "nearly every day" in a bid to persuade the striker to stay at the club.

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