Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called for winger Raheem Sterling to resolve issues off the field in order to perform up to his potential. The 18-year-old was charged with assault earlier this year.
"He needs to have a clear mind in everything in his life. We mustn't forget he is 18," Rodgers was quoted as saying by ESPN.
"He needs to stabilise his life, understand the remarkable opportunity he has at one of the biggest clubs in the world and focus everything in on his career," the Northern Irish Manager continued.
Sterling was handed his debut by Kenny Dalglish in 2012 before featuring heavily for Rodger's Liverpool early on in the 2012-13 season.
"Once he does that and he is clear in his mind, he has no distraction and we can get to the level of performance of the first four or five months of last year," Rodgers explained.
Sterling was recently charged with failing to follow standard procedure after the sale of his car, an offense that carries a fine if charged. After failing to appear in the Magistrates Court for the hearing, the case has been adjourned till 21 October.
"He is a good boy and had lots going on last year when he was put in the spotlight and he did well but now it's about him focusing on his football," Rodgers explained.
Liverpool play Sunderland on Sunday in a Barclays Premier League fixture. Rodgers insists that despite the recent incident, the winger is still in contention to play a part in the game.
"I'd spoken to him before and been with him all the way through it," Rodger said. "If I felt it was not the correct thing, I would not have had him involved. He was fine."
It is clear from his showings last season that Sterling possesses immense potential. However, his future at Liverpool will not be merely determined by his talent as a footballer. Rodgers, in these statements, seems to be trying to remind the player that playing football professionally can be severely sidetracked by personal issues.