Football: Anfield awaits old boy Raheem Sterling

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling (far left) tussling with Liverpool's James Milner during the League Cup final
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling (far left) tussling with Liverpool's James Milner during the League Cup final, which City won 3-1 on penalties. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ex-Red returns for the first time but Pellegrini says the forward knows how to deal with pressure

LONDON • Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has revealed the first player that will be on his team-sheet at Anfield today - Raheem Sterling.

The former Liverpool forward was loudly jeered by Reds fans throughout Sunday's League Cup final, and Pellegrini has backed the 21-year-old to silence the boo-boys.

"I don't know how Liverpool will react, whether it's revenge. We're sure it will be a tough game," said the Chilean, who saw his side prevail at Wembley in a shoot-out, ahead of the Premier League clash.

"I don't know who will be in the starting XI, but one player who I'm sure will start is Raheem Sterling. He's a young man, young player, starting his career, and he knows how to deal with pressure."

Sterling missed a gilt-edged chance when City were 1-0 up on Sunday, but still had the last laugh.

And Pellegrini believes the England international may yet lift another trophy at the end of the season.

City are fourth in the league. They were nine points behind leaders Leicester City (56), ahead of the Foxes' game against West Bromwich Albion yesterday.

But City have a game in hand and experience in overhauling leaders.

"If we are nine points behind the leader, the range of error is less. If the maths say you can do it, you must always trust you can do it," Pellegrini told a press conference yesterday.

"When you have experience, it's easier. When you see what happens over the seasons, you must trust. I remember two years before I arrived, when City won the title with (Roberto) Mancini, weren't we eight points behind (Manchester) United? Anything can happen."

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is less interested in the title race.

"For us it is not too interesting, that's not the best news but it is the truth," said the German, whose side went into the latest round of fixtures in ninth place on 38 points.

"We need to get some points and the game on Sunday showed it is possible for us to win against City. I don't worry about who can win the league, I only worry about how we can win tomorrow."

Klopp pointed to 60 per cent possession (they had 61) on Sunday and "a lot of good moments" as reasons to be optimistic.

"It's not possible to change history with the game on Wednesday, they won't give us the League Cup if we win, but we have to show we are ready again," he added.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva will miss the game after suffering a muscle injury at Wembley.

Striker Daniel Sturridge, who suffered a cramp on Sunday, and centre-back Mamadou Sakho, who was substituted after clashing heads with team-mate Emre Can, will be assessed.

For City, midfielder Yaya Toure is doubtful with a foot injury, while Joe Hart is expected to return in goal despite Willy Caballero's heroics in the shoot-out.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'ANFIELD AWAITS STERLING'. Print Edition | Subscribe