LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 01: Raheem Sterling of Liverpool competes with Kerim Frei of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on May 1, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
"The boy is a talent," was Brendan Rodgers reaction when asked about young winger Raheem Sterling following Sunday's 3-1 friendly win over Bayer Leverkusen. "He still has an awful lot to do and an awful lot to learn, but he’s shown over pre-season that from a young guy who just worries about himself, he now worries about the team and the responsibility within the team."
For Sterling, an impressive goal scored only three minutes into the match marked his first tally against senior competition for Liverpool, though as it was in a friendly his official first goal will still have to wait. Based on Sunday's performance, though, one that caps a highly successful pre-season for the 17-year-old starlet, he may not have to wait very long for that, especially with Rodgers looking to praise his play beyond simply noting the quality of the strike itself:
"I was pleased with the goal as a whole," the manager said. "If you look back at the images of it, it was good pressure on one side of the field when we won the ball and took it out of the pressure zone. I like wingers to play with width, and by the time the ball got to Jose Enrique, he was in a great position.
"His movement off the ball was very impressive—he’s made a great run and Jose played a terrific pass, and the rest was that imagination and creativity [of his] that I love when he cut inside and scored with a wonderful finish."
Given Rodgers' effusive praise and with Joe Cole nursing a slight knock picked up in the first leg of the Europa League tie against FC Gomel, it wouldn't be a surprise if Sterling ends up the first attacker off the bench when Liverpool face West Bromwich Albion to kick off the Premier League season on Saturday.