• Liverpool manager says winger can earn World Cup place
• Rodgers takes pride in allowing English talent to flourish
Brendan Rodgers believes Raheem Sterling can return to the senior England squad in time for the World Cup finals should he maintain his impressive recovery of form at Liverpool.
The 19-year-old winger has started the last five games, scoring three times in the past four matches, and followed his fine display in the 5-0 rout of Tottenham Hotspur with another confident performance in Saturday's 3-1 defeat of Cardiff City.
Sterling's promise was recognised with an England call-up in September 2012 followed by a first cap against Sweden that November. He featured in Roy Hodgson's squads at the start of this season but his international career has since developed at under-21 level.
The Liverpool manager is confident Sterling will be worthy of consideration for a place in Brazil. "He's got every opportunity [of going to the World Cup]. He's done very well for the under-21s when he's played. I think if you look at a number of the English players playing for us – there was Jordan Henderson and the level of his game at the weekend. The likes of Raheem. I think this is a place where the young players are growing and developing and that will benefit England and Liverpool as well."
Sterling suffered a dip in form and has had to deal with off-the-field issues since emerging at the start of Rodgers' Liverpool reign to earn a five-year contract worth around £35,000 a week. The manager believes the player is benefiting from a renewed focus in training, plus a tactical change in the Liverpool team.
Rodgers said: "I always try to act in the best interests of the player. He had a real dip in his performance level for a number of reasons but the one thing is I'm always fair with players if they are performing in training and showing a real focus. He has shown he is back now. He has shown he is back to that level where he is really aggressive and direct. And what he is doing is scoring goals, which is important.
"It's interesting because he has always preferred playing from the left. And, if you've seen him in the youth team, he's played from the left but when I looked at him in training all his goals were coming from the right. So it's a question of working with him. He's still so young – he was 19 the other week and I'm sure there will be other dips along the way. He's still only learning. I thought he was exceptional at Tottenham in a big game and that shows he's got the ability to play at that level."