Brendan Rodgers took time out to praise Raheem Sterling's recent performances for Liverpool, insisting the youngster can continue to be the catalyst that helps drive the team forward over the coming weeks.

Sterling was shifted into a more central, advanced role for the game against Manchester United on Sunday - and the youngster's sheer pace and instinct created a host of goalscoring opportunities.

Adam Lallana's incisive pass released the 20-year-old in the 10th minute; however, David De Gea, who turned in a man of the match display in the clash, stood up tall to deny him from close range.

He was twisting and shimmying shortly after to free up space for a low drive, which De Gea managed to divert wide of the goal, while minutes before half-time the No.31 rose to head goalwards but nodded too close to the 'keeper.

In the 51st minute, Sterling's best opportunity of the match arrived, when the England international latched onto a nonchalant back-pass from Jonny Evans, rounded De Gea, but was unable to apply the finish.

After the game had concluded, Rodgers admitted that Liverpool were left to rue missed chances at Old Trafford - but prior to the Reds' Capital One Cup quarter-final at Bournemouth tonight, the boss was keen to hail Sterling's efforts.

"I think Raheem has been brilliant," the manager told reporters gathered at Melwood to preview the trip to the Goldsands Stadium. "I think he's been absolutely outstanding.

"The kid played in a front role for me at the weekend, as a striker, moving across the line. He's played there as a young player at QPR and he's played there for Liverpool.

"He maybe could have got a goal at the weekend, but I thought he was absolutely outstanding. He puts defenders on the back foot. He's intelligent in his game, his running ability, speed and ability to press the ball.

"He's getting himself into some wonderful positions. The kid has been a real catalyst for us, in terms of our attacking threat. He's such a big talent and he's just turned 20 years of age.

"He's a wonderful young player and he's a very mature young man. I think he's shown consistently over this last period that he's been a real, real threat and he's a top young player."