Raheem Sterling will delay his talks with Liverpool over a new contract until the summer, according to Brendan Rodgers. The 20-year-old forward and the club have been locked in talks over a new long-term deal for most of the season.

Rodgers has remained positive of a deal being struck with Sterling recently indicating a deal was close to being signed. But speaking to the press ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Manchester United on 22 March, the Reds boss explained a decision has been made to hold talks until after the season.

"It has been made clear by Raheem and his representatives he wants to concentrate on his football and see what can be resolved in the summer," Rodgers said. "The boy is happy here. This is the best place for him to be. I am sure it will be resolved."

The Liverpool manager did have better news regarding Lucas Leiva and Mario Balotelli, who have been absent recently due to injury and illness respectively. He said: "Lucas Leiva back training. Balotelli is fine now. He's back in training and feeling much better."

Steven Gerrard has also returned to full fitness following a hamstring injury suffered in February. Given the recent performances of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen in midfield, though, the captain's immediate return to the starting line-up is not a certainty, although Rodgers insists the 34-year-old's professionalism has never been in doubt.

"He's back now, and it is maybe not the story you want, but he is totally committed," Rodgers continued. "He is a fan of this club, and his support for guys like Henderson and Allen has been fantastic. He's a selfless guy who puts the team first."