Sterling 'can cope with attention'

Meteoric rise ... Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling (Getty Images)

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident teenager Raheem Sterling can handle his meteoric rise and believes it sets an example to the club's other youngsters.

The 17-year-old received a surprise call-up for England's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ukraine earlier this week after a number of good performances for his club.

Rodgers had voiced his concerns previously about over-exposing the youngster but believes Sterling can cope with the additional focus.

"I got the call from Roy (Hodgson) and he explained the reasons for it," said the Reds boss.

"He feels he is one for the future and it was an opportunity for Raheem to get a sense of what he can achieve in the next few years.

"He knows how much work he has to do to get to that level on a consistent basis but the strides he has made for a 17-year-old have been fantastic.

"We have to keep it in perspective and focus on his development and hopefully in the years to come he can progress and become a very good player for England.

"He is very level-headed and I have been really impressed by his mentality and it is the job of people who surround him just to support him.

"As soon as he got the call-up I rang his agent straight away and said 'Make sure you're not coming up here in a hurry'.

"There is a plan mapped out for him and I think people know he is in a good place here.

"The job for the manager is to pick the right opportunity and he has come in and done very well but taking them out at the right time is as important as putting them in."

In addition to the bonus Sterling's on-field performances have brought so far Rodgers has noticed a knock-on effect elsewhere as other young players are now looking to emulate his progress.

Their claims are likely to be enhanced by the failure to bring in a replacement forward once Andy Carroll was sent on loan to West Ham United which leaves Rodgers with gaps to fill.

And as he has virtually ruled out signing a free agent as cover - his only option now the window is closed - attention will turn to the club's youngsters.

"There have been no attempts (to sign an out-of-contract player). [There's] nothing in the pipeline," said Rodgers, whose recruitment for January reinforcements can now start after a chief scout and overseas scout joined this week.

"I will always look to what I have within before I look outside so it's going to be an opportunity for young players.

"There is money invested into our academy and we have some young talents.

"We brought a big group of young players up to Melwood this week and they have been fortunate to work with model professionals like Jamie Carragher and Stewart Downing and see the demands I put on young players.

"It is not just about talent it is about personality and if you have that you have a chance of playing."

The 'Sterling effect' has also been noted by Rodgers.

"I have seen it with a number of players already," he added.

"The biggest thing you need in your life, whatever profession you are in, is hope.

"I think Raheem has given all the young players, from eight years of age to the young professionals, hope.

"When you come to Liverpool you are never sure as a young player whether you will get a chance.

"Now all of a sudden in the next few months we are going to see a number of players 18, 19 years of age around the squad and playing.

"I have seen a marked difference in the enthusiasm and desire of the young players because of one reason - hope."

Liverpool, in 18th place after its worst opening to a season for 50 years, heads to Sunderland this weekend looking for its first win.

"We would have liked a better start but we are all motivated and we are certainly not moping about all doom and gloom, the attitude has been first-class," said Rodgers.

"Our performance against Manchester City (a 2-2 draw) was very good so we showed we can compete.

"The thing for this season is to be as consistent as we can be.

"But if we can get that first win sooner rather than later that will kick us on."