Sending exhausted players off to international duty is not a wonderfully inspiring prospect, but with a thin squad already depleted due to injury, it's the reality with which Liverpool were faced last week. Brendan Rodgers had relied on many of the same faces for the last few weeks, and with a squad littered with youth and full internationals, it was only a matter of time before those faces featured for their countries. Raheem Sterling was a particular source of anxiety, as Rodgers had played him every possible minute in Liverpool's six matches leading into the October qualifiers.
Roy Hodgson is well aware of concerns about burning the 19-year-old out, but at the present time he doesn't sound too worried about exhausting the promising young forward:
"He is not alone in that. A lot of players have found that in the past.(Wayne) Rooney, for example. We are conscious of managing it. I don't think it will need managing until he shows signs of suffering from it. When he shows signs of not being quite as sharp, not doing as well, trying too hard, that night be the moment we think we have to manage this and give him a break. But that is not the case at the moment and I don't think Liverpool need to worry. His first half (against San Marino) was a lively as he could have been."
There's maybe room for concern in the England manager's willingness to wait until those signs are evident rather than being proactive, especially in qualifiers that amount to training exercises, but it's the type of stuff we'd have liked to see from Sterling's manager at the club level as well. The signs have been clear in recent weeks that Sterling is far from his best, suffering from both mental and physical fatigure, but Brendan Rodgers has been relentless in his use of Sterling despite regular assertions that he would do no such thing. The nadir came against Basel, when Sterling wasted no less than three clear scoring opportunities with heavy touches or wasteful efforts.
Roy Hodgson deserves ridicule for many, many things, but his comments about Raheem Sterling are no worse than Rodgers', and, after bringing Sterling off at the half against San Marino, Hodgson might actually be the one making good on his word.