Raheem Sterling has talked up Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four next season but the teenage winger is creating extra pressure for himself, which could affect his career.
Sterling lost his place at the back end of last season which was due to fatigue and then injury, which stopped him getting back into the first team after two appearances for the Under-21 side.
While he’s focused on winning back his place, he should tone down his England aspirations for now because he faces greater challenges at club level.
“For me at Liverpool, 100 per cent it’s about cementing a starting place in the team, getting a good run of games and hopefully getting some goals for the club – If I do that then hopefully I’ll get a pick for the England squad,” he said.
There is no guarantee that getting back into the Liverpool first team is going to be an easy task.
If Stewart Downing stays at the club ahead of the new season, he will more than likely start as the primary winger due to the impact he had over the second half of last season.
He provides a safer option for Brendan Rodgers in terms of fitness and also the experience he carries, which reduces the chances of inconsistency and individual errors.
Sterling’s place is also under threat from several youngsters at the club who would step all over him to get into the first team.
Suso is an example of another player who deserves another chance with the first team while Jordon Ibe started in the team at the back end of last season, showing the belief that Rodgers has in his talent and potential.
“We just need to get a good start to the next season and hopefully maintain that, and 100 per cent I think we’ve got a good chance of finishing in the top four,” he added.
A sensible claim but another one which could get him into some hot water because it automatically puts pressure on the players ahead of him in the pecking order.
It’s not intentional but Rodgers will be fully aware of the pressure and expectation over his team heading into next season and he doesn’t need younger players adding to that and reminding everyone of how high the stakes are.
Sterling also needs to account for the chance that his position in the Liverpool squad could be challenged by new arrivals which Rodgers brings into the club this summer.
Nacer Chadli of FC Twente is a good current example of a wide man Liverpool are being linked with, who could easily go into the squad ahead of Sterling in terms of first choice wingers that Rodgers wants to use next season.
There is nothing wrong with passion and ambition coming from younger players. In fact it’s quite refreshing to see someone like Sterling throwing his weight around but the balance is a fine one to get right.
There is no guarantee he’ll start as the first choice winger down the right or left of Liverpool’s team next season and that’s something Sterling should focus on over his England aspirations or the season aims for the club.
Do you think Sterling will start for Liverpool next season?