Sterling, who played a key role in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Reading at Anfield on Saturday, has had an impressive start to the season and has already been linked with a spot in the England squad for November's friendly against Sweden.
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“Yes, there’s some tough love going on, because he’s still got an awful long way to go,” Rodgers explained to reporters.
“What’s very important is I always offer the players the carrot. No one in this world responds to being beaten with a stick. We have to be careful because we want to nurture a real talent.
“We want to have him [Sterling] here as a legend for many years. We don’t want him at 17 years of age getting carried away with all the adulation and then at 21 he’s washed up and everyone wants him out.
“The biggest thing with me is just maintaining the hunger he has now.
“When he has that and he’s learning and developing he can be a really top player. There’s a long way to go but he’s been a revelation.”