Rodgers hints at further Liverpool outings for 'exciting' Sterling

The Reds boss was full of praise for the 17-year-old winger after his first competitive start for the club and revealed Andy Carroll missed out after suffering a late injury blow
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has praised the performance of Raheem Sterling after he made his first competitive start in the Reds' 1-0 win over Hearts, suggesting that he could be in line for more first-team outings in the future.

Sterling played the full 90 minutes of the Europa League clash at Tynecastle, with Liverpool running out 1-0 winners after Andy Webster's own goal.

The 17-year-old made a number of impressive forward runs and tested goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald on occasions and Rodgers had nothing but praise for the former QPR youngster.

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"He's very good at the one versus one. He had a good test tonight, the right-back did well, but I thought young Raheem showed some great moments," the Reds boss told ITV.

"He's 17 years of age and you've seen him in the first half.

"Tactically he's improving all the time, his pressing was good, he was starting to read the game and show good football intelligence, and obviously when he then has the ball he's really exciting.

"He arrived in some good areas and was a real threat for us. He's a part of the group, he's training with us every day, and the idea is to get him experience."

The Liverpool manager also said he was delighted by the performance of his players after they defeated a spirited Hearts side, backed by a vocal home support.

"I thought the players were excellent," he added.

"First and foremost it was a win, which was very important in European games and in any games but certainly coming to a place like this, where the crowd are right up for it.

"I thought we had a problem [in the] first half with our positioning on the field. In order to keep good possession you need good positioning.

"Even though we arrived in good areas, that was something we spoke about at half-time.

"[In the] second half I thought our management of the game was much better. [We] kept possession better and we stayed patient, and the goal came from a very good move.

"It was a good win, a difficult match for us. The crowd were fantastic here, our supporters were brilliant as well and like I said, it was a real good game."

The Northern Irishman went on to reveal that striker Andy Carroll, who has been strongly linked with a move away from the club, was set to start the match before a late injury blow.

"Andy was due to start but he had a slight twinge in his hamstring and he had a scan on it," he added. "It didn't show a tear, he just has a slight disruption.

"We tried to give him 48 hours. He travelled up here, he trained yesterday and it was still a bit tight. The medical advice was that it was still too much of a risk for him to play. It was unfortunate because he has worked well and he was desperate to play.

"Hopefully missing the game tonight will allow him to be fit and recover for the weekend."