With little left to play for but pride over the final six games of the season, manager Brendan Rodgers spoke to the press on Wednesday afternoon as he prepares his side to face Reading, revealing that Stewart Downing will be back in the squad—and likely back in the starting eleven—come Saturday. For Raheem Sterling, though, the news isn't quite so positive.
"Young Raheem won't be involved [and] Stewart Downing had a bout of sickness last weekend just before the game, hence the reason for him having to come off," said Rodgers. "He's fine now. Apart from that, we're fit and strong—the players are looking very good."
Sterling missed making the bench against West Ham with a minor thigh tear which rather than being a recent injury appears to have been something of an ongoing concern for the player, and a week away from the action has only added to a growing belief the young winger could miss the remainder of the season as a preventative measure.
"The medics wanted to take him out for a few weeks just to see where he was at with injuries," the manager explained. "It has been an ongoing one. He's a very young player so we don't want to risk any long-term injury when there's no need. Of course you would rather have him in the squad to develop him, but this is a part of making sure we have a duty of care for him as a young player.
"When he shows signs of fatigue and a little bit of injury, we have to look at that and treat it in the best way we think possible. At the moment, that's to take him out."
Giving young players too much action before their bodies have finished developing is often a recipe for long-term injury woes, and it appears that playing Sterling every week over the first half of the season has taken its toll.
Luckily for the players' chances of a future free of persistent injury troubles, January signings Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have allowed Sterling's workload to be drastically reduced over the past few months. It also means Rodgers being able to give him time off for his thigh injury now as the season winds down.
Hopefully that will be enough and Sterling will be able to return to action next season without any damage to his long-term prospects having been done.