Raheem Sterling is one of the best and in-form players in the Liverpool squad, and many fans would have surprised to see him left out of the team against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The 19-year-old winger was named as a substitute for the Premier League clash at Anfield and was brought on just past the hour mark in place of Adam Lallana.
With Daniel Sturridge out injured, not playing Sterling from the start and removing a major threat from the attack has been criticised by many and has been put forward as the main reason why the Reds failed to score against the Villans.
However, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has defended his decision not to start Sterling against Villa, claiming that he was protecting the teenager from burnout.
‘We have an exciting couple of months and this was a game I felt we could do that’, Sky Sports quotes him as saying. ‘If he didn't have international football, then it would have been the case.
‘He is a big player for us but we have built a squad here where I have to trust all the players but as a team and a squad we didn't deliver. He will certainly play on Tuesday night (in the Champions League)’.
Sterling had played both of England’s matches during the two-week international break, and one can understand why Rodgers did not start him - he probably thought that they could win against Villa without the youngster. He may be only 19 and fit, but being under pressure to deliver and playing all the time can be counterproductive.
The fact that Liverpool lost 1-0 to Villa without Sterling could raise concerns among many fans, but perhaps it was more down to the fact that Paul Lambert’s side were organised in defence and knew how to stop the Reds attackers.