Somewhat lost in the ALL SUAREZ ALL THE TIME headlines since Wednesday's smashing 5-1 deafeat over Norwich — which we admit we are equally guilty about perpetuating — was Raheem Sterling's own contribution to the score line. After collecting his fourth goal, Luis Suarez provided an assist that would lead to the young Englishman's first league goal of the season.
Sterling is one of a handful of youngsters needing playing time in order to bring his game to the next level, and for a while there was some hope that he'd be sent out on loan somewhere to get those development minutes. The unfortunate ankle injury to teammate Daniel Sturridge has opened up some space up front, and that hole in the line-up has Brendan Rodgers rethinking any plans he may have had to send Sterling elsewhere for the rest of the season.
"Raheem has been in the squad," Rodgers said, "he has featured in a lot of games and he has started the last two so certainly at this moment in time, we wouldn’t be considering it [a loan move]."
Circumstance rather than a phenomenal run of form dictated Sterling's inclusion against Hull and Norwich, but a chance is still a chance. There are few silver linings to Sturridge's injury, but for Sterling the increased playing time is certainly a welcome opportunity. Amidst a team performance that was average at best save for Suarez, Sterling impressed his manager on the day with the fifth and final goal of the match.
"He is still only a very young player," Rodgers continued. "I thought his finish was excellent, that probably gets lost amid Luis’ goals, but we have just encouraged the front players to take more of a risk and get in the box. It was a wonderful finish off his left foot.
"His pressing was very good, [with] his strength on the ball and he knows he has to add the numbers to his game in goals and assists. He scored a terrific goal and I am delighted for him."
Whether this performance was enough for Sterling to receive a spot in Saturday's line-up against West Ham won't be known until someone leaks the team sheet again, but like his young teammate Jon Flanagan, Sterling has an opportunity to use the prolonged absence of a more experienced player to earn himself a solid run of games.