Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has urged youngster Raheem Sterling to rectify his lifestyle or risk jeopardising his footballing career.
The 18-year-old has been plagued with legal problems, most recently for assaulting his former girlfriend, for which he was eventually cleared. The winger signed a new contract with the Reds last December but has missed the major part of this year through injury and Rodgers believes that in order to make his way into the team, he will have to focus more on his football.
The youngster has made six appearances this season and scored a goal in his only start against Notts County in the second round of the Capital One Cup. The midfielder impressed the fans with his performance last season, where he made 19 starts in the league, scoring two goals and assisting the same. He has also been drafted into the England team for whom he has made one start thus far in his career.
"He needs to have a clear mind in everything in his life. We mustn't forget he is 18. We have 18 and 17-year-olds on the bench at the moment. He needs to stabilise his life. He needs to understand the remarkable opportunity he has at one of the biggest clubs in the world and focus everything on his career," Rodgers said.
"Once he does that and he is clear in his mind, once he has got no distractions, we can get to the level of performance of the first four to five months of last year. He is a good boy and had lots going on last year when he was put in the spotlight and he did well, but now it's about him focusing on his football," he added.
The midfielder came on as a substitute in Liverpool's 1-0 loss to Manchester United in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, 24 hours after he had been discharged from count following the assault charge. However, Rodgers believes that the legal problems had no bearing on his performance.
"I'd spoken to him before (he went to court), and been with him all the way through it. If I felt it was not the correct thing (to play him) I would not have had him involved. He was fine," Rodgers concluded.