In his column for the Liverpool Echo today, Smith welcomed Sturridge's signing, and suggested that Sterling may need a spell on the sidelines. He argued:
"For me, the one who is likely to be most affected by Sturridge’s arrival is Raheem Sterling.
"He took his goal very coolly against Sunderland but in truth I feel he has been struggling recently and probably needs taking out of it a bit more now.
"He’s still a very young player with lots to learn and so I think the boss will look to give him a rest at times and keep the pressure off him".
I agree with this. Some fans will probably find this surprising, but Sterling has made more appearances this season than any other Liverpool player, including Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard.
It's great to see youth getting a chance, but Sterling is clearly in real danger of being over-played, and as we saw with Michael Owen, that could lead to problems later down the line.
To be brutally honest, it's not as if the team will miss Sterling all the much if he drops to bench for a while. His end product is not the greatest:
* 2 goals/2 assists in 29 games
* Only 10 shots on goal all season.
* Only 6 successful crosses in 20 league games.
* 77% passing accuracy in opposition half.
Sterling is only 18, and will probably improve over time, but for right now, despite the hype, he is not an integral part of the team's success, and resting him more would arguably be a positive move.
Additionally, the extra competition from Sturridge (and perhaps Tom Ince) could force Sterling to try and up his game (in terms of end product), and that would be a win-win situation for Liverpool.