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Premier League

  • May 24, 2015
  • • 15:00
  • • Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Referee: A. Taylor
  • • Attendance: 27602

Stoke City v Liverpool Preview: Rodgers keen to move away from Sterling saga

Stoke City v Liverpool Preview: Rodgers keen to move away from Sterling saga

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The acrimony surrounding the 20-year-old's contract situation has engulfed Anfield but his manager simply wants to finish the season on a high

As the Raheem Sterling contract saga rumbles on, Brendan Rodgers insists he is fully focused on Liverpool's final Premier League game of the season at Stoke City.

The past week has been dominated by talk of the 20-year-old's future, with the acrimony between player and club intensifying on Thursday when his agent Aidy Ward revealed his client will not sign a new deal at Anfield in an explosive interview with the Evening Standard.

Liverpool responded by cancelling a scheduled meeting with the Sterling camp on Friday and while Rodgers expects talks over Sterling's contract to resume at some point, he is keen to shift focus to Sunday's trip to the Britannia Stadium.

"I've said at the beginning of the season that [the aim] is to finish as high as we possibly can," he said. "That is the aim for the game.

"Our season doesn't finish until the whistle blows on Sunday so it'll be a tough game for us away at Stoke but we go there and we want to finish the season strong.

"I always believe it's a good sign of the team if they can keep going to the very end and that'll be our ambition against Stoke."

Sunday marks Steven Gerrard's final Liverpool appearance, and the midfielder will be desperate to go out on a high after last week's Anfield farewell finished in an anti-climactic 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

"I'm sure for Steven it's been a huge relief. Leading into your last game at Anfield, which has been his home for 17 years, there was probably a whole load of emotion in that last week for him," Rodgers added.

"Unfortunately we couldn't get the result, our performance level wasn't what we expected, but I think the crowd and the supporters recognised the moment and gave him a great send-off.

"So I'm sure for him it's a huge sigh of relief and now - which he has - he can work well this week and concentrate on Sunday's game."

A win will secure fifth spot for Liverpool, while Stoke are already certain to finish ninth but can improve on what is already a club-record Premier League points haul.

"We want to end the season in the manner that the season has gone as a whole, with a positive outcome," Stoke manager Mark Hughes said.

"We have done really well throughout the season and I always like to finish the campaign with a win.

"Liverpool have something riding on the game too; they could drop a couple of places if other results go against them, so they will be here knowing they have a job to do.

"We are ready for it though, and we want to go out there on Sunday and put on a show."

Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) and Mario Balotelli are concerns for the visitors, while Hughes will recall regular number one Asmir Begovic in place of Jack Butland.

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