Raheem Sterling's absence on Tuesday night against Tottenham proved not to be decisive, as Brendan Rodgers' selections both from the outset and off the bench proved to be enough to edge past the visitors in an exciting 3-2 win. Going without arguably their best attacking player this season wasn't something many would hope to see replicated, however, and with the fixtures coming thick and fast for the rest of February, it was likely that supporters would get to see Sterling back in action soon rather than later.
According to the Liverpool Echo, however, it's going to be at least a little bit later, as the versatile forward will be left out of today's squad to face Crystal Palace in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a view to returning by Thursday evening, in time for the first leg of their Europa League tie with Besiktas. It will be the first time this season that Sterling will be out of two consecutive matches for fitness reasons, having previously missed out on two straight during his midseason break during the month of January.
With so many critical fixtures left--and without dismissing the importance of this one, obviously--caution appears to be the right call, and while Sterling joins a handful of others ruled out through injury, Rodgers should have more than enough options up front to compensate. Adam Lallana was likely set for a start anyway, and now he'll either go it alone behind two from Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, and Rickie Lambert, or be joined by either Lazar Markovic or Philippe Coutinho behind a lone striker.
No doubt that Liverpool are a far better side with Raheem Sterling available, and most would have surely preferred he be included in tonight's starting eleven in a fixture that's given Liverpool nightmares in the past year. But with a view toward the future, both short- and long-term, keeping the 20-year-old out until he's fully healed is the right call.