Danny Hall Column: Lay off Liverpool FC’s Raheem - his Sterling displays come at a cost and the kid needs a rest

England manager Roy Hodgson (left) and Raheem Sterling chat on the pitch
England manager Roy Hodgson (left) and Raheem Sterling chat on the pitch
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How Raheem Sterling must have wished he’d just kept his mouth shut.

Over the past week, the Liverpool youngster - still just 19 years of age, remember - has been accused of treachery and treason, and almost everything in between by ‘experts’ aplenty - including Alan Shearer, who was to energetic, all-action displays of speed on the field what knockout rugby league star Ben Flower is to sporting fair play.

Sterling’s only crime? Having the sheer nerve and audacity to honestly tell Roy Hodgson, the England manager, that he was tired ahead of the qualifier in Estonia.

Tired? What, at 19, cried the detractors?

Well, um, yes.

The facts: Sterling exploded onto the scene last season, playing 39 games for Liverpool as the Reds narrowly failed to land their first Premier League crown. The pressure of a relentless title tilt was magnified on Merseyside, amongst supporters desperate to regain their spot on that famous perch that Sir Alex knocked them off. It didn’t happen.

Then came a disastrous World Cup campaign with England, which saw Sterling start the crucial group games against Italy and Uruguay, and come off the bench against Costa Rica.

And 33 days later, he was back in a Liverpool shirt, netting the winner in a friendly against Olympiacos in Chicago.

Since then, he has played 1,682 minutes already for club and country - almost three times as many as he had, this time a year ago.

Make no mistake, Sterling is a talented youngster but he is, despite what some Liverpool and England fans may think, only human.

Thomas Müller is another player who spectacularly burst onto the scene, just like Sterling. In 2009/10, when he was 20 years of age and just turned 21, he played 20 times for Bayern Munich and went on to star at the 2010 World Cup - scoring twice in a 4-1 demolition of England.

Sterling, who only turned 19 in December, played almost twice as many games last season - 39, in all.

One doctor even suggested this week that the Reds youngster could be in danger of total burnout, especially with a physically and mentally draining Champions League schedule ahead.

If that does happen, either the blame lies with England, Liverpool or the relentless schedule of both.

But it certainly does not rest with Sterling - the wonderkid who seems to have the world on his shoulders, rather than at his feet.