Brendan Rodgers Talks Raheem Sterling, More in Stoke vs. Liverpool Presser

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2015

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool reacts after a missed opportunity during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on April 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers "expects" Raheem Sterling to fulfill the remaining two years of his Reds contract.

Rodgers addressed a difficult situation during Friday's press conference, ahead of Liverpool's Premier League trip to Stoke City on Sunday, reported by Ben Smith of BBC Sport:

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04:  Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal marshalls Raheem Sterling of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on April 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Imag
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Smith previously reported Sterling would tell Liverpool he wants to leave during a meeting set for Friday. However, this was cancelled by the club after Aidy Ward, the player's agent, was reported to have angrily attacked Liverpool in the press, per BBC Sport.

Benedict Moore-Bridger of the London Evening Standard quoted Ward: "He is definitely not signing (a new contract with Liverpool). He's not signing for £700, £800, £900 thousand a week. He is not signing."

Ward also is said to have called Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher a "knob" for his comments on the situation—Carragher suggested Sterling "needs to change" his agent on Sky Sports—but Ward "denies quotes attributed to him in the Evening Standard and is now taking legal advice about it," per Sky Sports.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 26:  Brendan Rodgers manager of Liverpool shakes hands with Raheem Sterling of Liverpool after defeat in a penalty shoot out during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between Besiktas JK and Liverpool FC on Feb
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Rodgers suggested the ongoing drama hasn't changed his relationship with Sterling, reported by Tony Barrett of the Times:

As reported by David Maddock of the Mirror, Rodgers wasn't willing to disclose how the club will deal with the situation. Instead, he wants to concentrate on Sterling's development.

"Any discussions will be dealt with internally. We will deal with things in-house and be as private as we can possibly be," Rodgers said per Maddock. "My focus remains to improve Raheem as a footballer."

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match betrween Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield on May 16, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Rodgers believes Sterling remains content at the club, per Barrett:

The manager also expects Liverpool fans to remain behind their player, reported by Maddock: "Liverpool supporters always back their own players. If he plays any part in the game, Raheem will get the support of our fans."

This comment comes after Sterling was booed when receiving his Young Player of the Year prize at the club's recent awards night, reported by BBC Sport.

B/R UK's Sam Tighe recently discussed where Sterling could end up:

On a more positive note, Rodgers confirmed his excitement for Jordon Ibe and Jon Flanagan inking new deals, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo:

He also confirmed striker Mario Balotelli remains a doubt in an otherwise fit squad:

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match betrween Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield on May 16, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sunday's fixture will mark the last time captain Steven Gerrard represents the Reds. Fifth-placed Liverpool can still finish as low as seventh if Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton win, meaning there is still plenty to play for during the campaign's final 90 minutes.

Rodgers' side have missed out on Champions League football but must quickly overcome the recent 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace if they're to enter the summer on a positive note. Stoke are ninth, having drawn 0-0 with Burnley last time out.

Alongside Gerrard, it's possible Sunday's fixture may be Sterling's last appearance for the club. Although Rodgers remains defiant, many twists and turns are likely to ensue in an already stressful situation. Liverpool will focus on getting a result at the Britannia Stadium before the summer business begins.

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