Jon Flanagan
Jon Flanagan returned to first-team action earlier this seasonGetty

Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan has revealed his crunching tackle on Raheem Sterling during their 3-0 win against Manchester City on Wednesday (2 March) was designed to lift the Anfield crowd. The defender is a good friend of Sterling, who moved from Liverpool to City in the summer, and has revealed his tempo-setting tackle was a calculated move.

Flanagan said the robust challenge was intended to ignite the crowd at Anfield, who were keen to unsettle Sterling following his controversial transfer last year. The 21-year-old England international moved to the Etihad Stadium for an initial fee of £44m ($62.2m).

"It was something I had to do to get the crowd up," the fan favourite said, according to Liverpool Echo. "The crowd have been fantastic, always right behind me even in the dark days. Me and Raheem were good mates at Liverpool but now he's gone to City it is just business on the pitch."

Meanwhile, Flanagan revealed he is relishing being back in action, having recently returned from a 20-month spell on the sidelines. The 23-year-old's contract at Liverpool expires at the end of the current season, but he is not letting his long-term future distract him from his immediate priorities.

"It is great to be back in the Premier League. It has been a nightmare with injuries," the Liverpool star said. "I am feeling good and fit and sharp so I am just trying to get as many games as possible."