Raheem Sterling can play as a striker, says Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
Last Updated: 19/12/14 7:44am
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says Raheem Sterling has all the qualities needed to play as a striker on a more regular basis.
Sterling scored twice after being switched to playing up front in Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Bournemouth in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
"He can play across the front line," said Rodgers, who likened Sterling to Arsenal and Chile forward Alexis Sanchez.
"I played him as a striker, but you get different types of striker.
"He's more of an Alexis Sanchez when he plays as a striker - he's not going to pin the defender. He plays in the spaces and he's got the speed to get in behind. A couple of great finishes and I'm very pleased for him.
"I think his best position is on the side from the left, coming inside and making runs in behind, but I played him in the position because I think he can play it.
"As a young player and in the youth team at Liverpool he's played as a striker and he's got the qualities to do it."
The brace was the first time Sterling had scored since September, with Liverpool floundering in 11th place in the Premier League after last season's near miss in the title race.
"Raheem has got a wee bit of stick which I find incredible," added Rodgers, who conceded that Sterling has been required to try to compensate for the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge to injury.
Raheem's been outstanding for us. Last season he was a young kid playing up top with some world-class players. This season he hasn't got that, that's the reality, but he's kept going.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
The prolific pair scored 55 goals between them for Liverpool last season.
"Raheem's been outstanding for us. Last season he was a young kid of 18 or 19 playing up top with some world-class players. This season he hasn't got that, that's the reality, but he's kept going and a lot of the focus has been on him.
"He hasn't scored the goals that maybe people expect of him but it's not what I expect of him.
"I expect him to create and score goals over the course of the season. He was just playing freely - we gave him that striker's role but he's not someone who backs into defenders.
"We want him running between people and not be tackled, and he dropped in very well and his pace and dribbling ability is there for all to see."
Meanwhile, Sterling himself played down his personal achievement and instead praised the team's overall performance.
"It's been difficult the last few weeks but I think the boys did really well," Sterling said.
"We deserved it, we played some great football at times and it's all credit to the lads.
"The most important thing is for the team to win and I'm happy to be involved, in and amongst the goals, but as long as the team wins I'm happy."