Sterling, Strikers, and Travel Delay No Cause for Concern

Julian Finney

Raheem Sterling's contract, a lack of a proven option up top for the weekend, and a later-than-expected return from Italy could have all conspired to cause serious concern for Brendan Rodgers, but at least outwardly the new manager is feeling positively about the immediate and longer-term future.

On Raheem Sterling's future:

"There's good conversations so there's no worry or concern. It will be resolved. I've spoken to the agent and I know the agent so there's no problem. He's a real good kid. We just want to make sure it's right for him. It will get done sooner or later."

On the lack of a striker for West Ham:

"We've got players in the group who can score goals. I saw a statistic recently that was really interesting and it was that the record number of goalscorers in any one season is 18. We've actually hit 15 up until this point and that shows you that our goals are actually spread out across the team."

On travel problems and the impact for the weekend:

"Obviously it would have been ideal to have flown back last night but the tour operators and the people who have organised us have done really well - and in fairness, it hasn't affected us too much, really. We've been able to recover well overnight and this morning, now we will have one preparation session before our game against West Ham."

Not exactly the sky is falling type stuff from Brendan Rodgers, who's had a fairly busy 24 hours after the progress-sealing victory on the final day of group play in the Europa League over Udinese. The team planned to return the night of the match, but mechanical problems with their plane meant that the squad didn't return until midday today, stalling their preparations for Sunday's important Premier League match at West Ham.

You wouldn't expect much in the way of full disclosure if there were major hiccups due to the change in plans, but it's at least nice to read that all parties--those that traveled and those that didn't--weren't impacted too much by the problems, and that there's been enough recovery time for those that took part as well as those in need of additional recovery time, which included Lucas, Steven Gerrard, and Daniel Agger, all of whom will be expected to start tomorrow.

Rodgers was also tasked with commenting on the lack of a proven striking option due to the one-match ban for Luis Suarez, which has obviously taken up much of the pre-match discussion on the Liverpool end of things. Learning that there's been 15 different senior squad goalscorers was a shock given how much the squad's struggled to find the net on a consistent basis, and while it's nice to have a positive-seeming surprise, it still doesn't assuage concerns about having someone capable of being the focal point in attack. Suarez has at times been a one-man show up top, and while there's been improvements of late, having lots of different people on the score sheet doesn't change that in league, the Uruguayan has scored more than half of the team's goals and created two more.

One man that will take a part in some capacity tomorrow is Raheem Sterling, and a decent-sized portion of Rodgers' pre-match discussions have focused on the ongoing saga of settling his new contract. Some are calm, with the player's assertions about waiting until his birthday (which is today) proving enough, while others point towards continued negotiations as a sign of problems and the potential for losing the sought-after youngster some time in the near future.

The manager's been overly clear about where he sees things headed, however, and by his most recent report he's taken an active role in making sure that Sterling stays with Liverpool for at least a while longer, even if more money could be found elsewhere. If accounts from the player and manager are accurate, the apparent lack of concern about whether or not Raheem Sterling chases that money sometime soon seems justified.

What we're left with ahead of kickoff tomorrow, then, is just the same concern we've had for weeks--Liverpool managing to produce both performance and result. No big deal, right?

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