London: Raheem Sterling can return fresh from a mid-season vacation, firing on all cylinders to help Liverpool storm up the table, manager Brendan Rodgers believes.
The 20-year-old England international, given time off by Rodgers, was enjoying warmer climes in Jamaica on Saturday as Liverpool won 1-0 at Sunderland in the Premier League.
Sterling`s break has raised eyebrows and even spawned a spoof Twitter account @tiredSterling yet Rodgers insists the plan, devised in the summer, will pay dividends when the player returns next week.
"For me, it was the right thing to do for Raheem," he told the BBC after Liverpool`s win. "He`s a very talented young player and we ask a lot of him.
"He`s one of those little robust players but he`s played a lot of football, not just this season but over a couple of years since he`s come into the team. Internationally as well, there`s been a big demand on him.
"Of course, as a manager you can absolutely maximise everything out but when you get to the last 10 games of the season he might be running on empty."
Sterling, who has just turned 20, has made 34 appearances for club and country this season and while he is often Liverpool`s most dangerous player, Rodgers said he had no qualms about sending him off for a sunshine break.
"I just felt after the Leicester game (on Jan. 1) it was a chance for him to go away and come back next week fresh and feeling the benefits of a good rest.
"If I was being selfish I would have him in every game but I hope that he can be play at this level for the next 10 years, but he has to have that breathing space."