Premier League: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers defends Raheem Sterling decision

Raheem Sterling of Liverpool comes on for Adam Lallana
Image: Raheem Sterling: Came on for Adam Lallana against Aston Villa

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he did not make a mistake by resting Raheem Sterling in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa.

Sterling has emerged as a key player for the Reds over the last 10 months but, having played 180 minutes in England's two matches last week, he was benched for the Premier League visit of Villa to Anfield.

He was brought on after an hour with Liverpool struggling to break down their opponents but even he could not unlock the resilient Villa defence.

The 19-year-old will be back in the team for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Bulgarian outsiders Ludogorets, but Rodgers has defended his decision on Saturday.

He is a big player for us but we have built a squad here where I have to trust all the players but as a team and a squad we didn't deliver.
Raheem Sterling

"We have an exciting couple of months and this was a game I felt we could do that," he said.

"If he didn't have international football then it would have been the case.

"He is a big player for us but we have built a squad here where I have to trust all the players but as a team and a squad we didn't deliver.

More from Liverpool V Aston Villa

"He will certainly play on Tuesday night."

Liverpool's starting XI against Villa contained five summer signings - with midfielder Adam Lallana making his debut after an injury in pre-season - but Rodgers said that was not the reason for defeat.

"We had new players against Tottenham (whom they beat 3-0 before the international break) and we were outstanding," he said.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said his side started too slow in their 0-1 defeat to Aston Villa.

"The players we have brought in are very good players and I am delighted with them but we just failed to open Villa up.

"We just lacked that bit of quality. We have seen many games here where we ended up with 15-20 shots on target but that didn't happen."

Rodgers hopes the return of the Champions League will give his side the chance to bounce back in midweek.

"This game has gone and we now have to focus on that," he said.

"There is nothing better than to get going again on Tuesday night in a competition we love.

"Hopefully we can start that competition with three points."

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