Brendan Rodgers reserved special praise for the way Raheem Sterling has applied himself since returning to pre-season training in the summer.

Rodgers has monitored the youngster's progress closely since arriving at the club in June 2012, handing the winger an extended run in the side at the start of last season.

Sterling's blistering pace and fearless attitude propelled him into the spotlight and meant at the tender age of 17, he was one of the first names on the team sheet.

However, after Christmas, he was used less frequently and began the current campaign watching from the sidelines, until making a second league start against Hull City.

From there his form has flourished - and his manager believes Sterling has matured into a more tactically astute player, who is enjoying his football as a consequence.

"I think his focus on his game is clearly there," Rodgers told reporters at Melwood. "I see it on a daily basis. He's getting himself prepared well for training.

"It's difficult when you have a young player at 17 years of age and they burst onto the scene like Raheem did through his sheer natural talent. He come into the spotlight and in those first six months, he was outstanding.

"But it happens to every single player; there's going to be a drop-off period for them. And for him, it was probably the second half of last season. But he came in over the course of pre-season and he worked tirelessly.

"He was bright and he was given a chance this year, which he took. He's only just turned 19 years of age. I think you're seeing now a boy that is very focused on his football and he's happy, which is important.

"He's concentrating on his work. In training he's been unbelievable. He's so hard and so fast in his game. Technically he's getting better. Tactically, for a young boy, he's got a really good head for the game.

"I think he's recognised that at a club like this here, you've got to be right every single day of your life, not just in every game. He's getting his rewards at the minute. He looks very fast and bright and he can cause problems for opponents."

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Sterling's fine early form at the commence of the last campaign earned him a call up to the England senior squad under the stewardship of Roy Hogdson and the youngster made his debut for the Three Lions in a friendly against Sweden in Stockholm.

With the FIFA 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil on the horizon, Hodgson is a man  Sterling will be keen to impress over the coming months; however, Rodgers insists the youngster's main focus will be on thriving for Liverpool.

"I think at this stage most of the players are only concentrating on their club football," said the manager.

"The squads will come out in March and some of the players who are on the fringes will be looking towards that, because this might be the last squad that is picked before the World Cup squad.

"But most of the players are really focused on doing their best for their clubs. I think most players professionally know that if they do it for their club, they are going to end up with the opportunity of being selected for a World Cup, which would be great for them.

"I can only talk about the players here and there hasn't been a mention of that at all. I say to them, when you're at Liverpool, concentrate on Liverpool and when you're with your country, focus on your country."