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Sturridge Underlines Importance of Playing Time in Sterling Stay

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A factor that will--or at least should--weigh heavily into the decision-making about Raheem Sterling's future is playing time, and Daniel Sturridge highlighted as much while also noting his hopes that the talented forward will remain in a Liverpool shirt.

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If there's at least two days until a match and there's something Liverpool-related going on, odds are there will be discussion about Raheem Sterling's contract. Ahead of the Arsenal match it was the player himself commenting, post-match it was Brendan Rodgers, and over the past week it's been anyone and everyone with a microphone or keyboard in front of them. Opinions are wide-ranging, even from the perspective of Liverpool supporters, but one constant truth is that, even in spite of the fact that nothing remotely resembling a conclusion is coming for at least another few months, there will be discussion.

Today's cause came about with the release of next season's home strip, which was paraded onto a stage in front of the Centenary Stand at Anfield. Sterling was joined by Martin Skrtel, Simon Mignolet, and Daniel Sturridge for the event, which reportedly included one fan attempting to bring the debacle to a swift resolution by proclaiming, "Make sure we see you in it next season." Admirable effort, questionable timing.

A more formal discussion of the topic unfolded after the event, when Sturridge was asked for his thoughts on the issue:

"I don't know what Raheem wants to do but it is just important to be able to play regularly. As long as he is playing regularly he will be happy. I don't think it is anything to with anything other than that and I hope he will stay at the club. It is important, regardless of who you are, to show what you can do - not just for Raheem but any young player. It is important to play games and gain experience so whatever decision he makes I am behind him 100 per cent."

That isn't a tremendous amount of insight from a teammate that's perceived to have a fairly close relationship with Sterling, with quotes that mostly carry the party line about Liverpool being a good environment for the 20-year-old to continue to develop. From current teammates to the manager to former players, all continue to bang the same drum--as talented as he is, there are few squads in which Raheem Sterling will command the same amount of playing time, and few squads that will be as willing to accommodate him over the course of the next few years. Injuries and loss of form by others have forced him outside of his comfort zone at times, but there can be no questioning the player's status as a (and perhaps the) key piece in Brendan Rodgers' team.

Whether or not that carries as much weight as Daniel Sturridge thinks it does remains open to debate, and as much as he might downplay the influence of other factors, wages and the perception of the opportunity to compete for trophies, both domestically and on the continent, will certainly play a part as well.