Sterling hails Rodgers support
6:21am Tuesday 1st April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling has done plenty to impress Brendan Rodgers and claims the Reds manager is the sort of boss young players are "crying out for".
England manager Roy Hodgson's assistant Ray Lewington was at Anfield on Sunday to see the 19-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance in the 4-0 win over Tottenham.
It was arguably the teenager's best display since breaking into the side in the latter stages of the 2011-12 season and, having won back his first-team place in December, came on the back of three months of progress both individually and collectively.
Sterling's personal form has catapulted him into the World Cup reckoning when it originally seemed he was destined to spend the second half of the season on loan at a Sky Bet Championship club.
Lewington will have reported back only good things to Hodgson but the player himself is at the moment more concerned with helping Liverpool's title bid, having gone top of the table at the weekend, rather than wondering when he can start packing his bags for Brazil.
"I worked really hard for the team, not just going forward but I looked to track back," he said.
"I think my work rate and my confidence have improved. I'm working for the team, pressing and really trying to get on the front foot.
"It was disappointing being on the bench for two games but I knew I had to be ready if I was called back and I am grateful to the manager for having the belief to put me in for a big game and the team got the win.
"It is great to have a manager who has belief in you; as a young player that is what you cry out for. I am just grateful to have a manager like that at this club."
As well as the support from Rodgers, Sterling is fortunate to be surrounded by some star quality on the pitch in the form of captain Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, which undoubtedly makes it easier for him.
"To have players like Luis and Stevie giving you encouragement is a help and credit to them," he added.
"I have been learning off the likes of Suarez and Sturridge and trying to bring it into match days."
Sterling has had some issues off the pitch which contributed to him losing focus and hardly featuring in the first half of the season, but that is no longer a problem.
With Liverpool now topping the table with six matches to go there is a real belief the club can end a 24-year wait for the title and while fans are revelling in the situation Sterling admits the squad are working hard on concentrating on the task in hand.
"I think as the season goes on we have a bit more belief but we can't get ahead of ourselves, we have to take it game by game and coming to the last six games there is a really good atmosphere at the training ground," he said.
"With the remaining games it is going to be difficult with Manchester City and Chelsea coming here but we'll take it as it comes as we really fancy ourselves against anyone coming here.
"We will take it step by step and do the business when they come.
"There is a real belief from the fans and a togetherness, not just with the fans but the players as well and a togetherness between the fans and players.
"From what I've heard from the likes of Flanno (Jon Flanagan) and Stevie (Gerrard) the atmosphere in the Champions League is something to dream about and we are working for the dream.
"We know what the dream is and hopefully that dream can become a reality."
Considering Sterling's previous issues he insists there is no danger of him being distracted by title talk.
"The high-end players like Steven Gerrard always make sure your feet stay firmly on the floor but me as a person I don't think that will be a problem," he said.
"I am just glad to be playing and long may it continue. There will never be a time when my feet are off the floor.
"I try to go home and switch off from football and think about the next game closer to it.
"I try to watch my performances probably two days after, when everything has settled down, and I go over my clips when I am more calm and ready to focus."