Raheem Sterling was arguably England’s best player in an otherwise disappointing World Cup opener against Italy.
All of the pre-match talk was centred around whether the Liverpool man would be given the opportunity to start for his country and the risk by Roy Hodgson paid off.
Sterling started in an unfamiliar position in behind Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge in a number ten role, with Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney confined to wider areas.
Brendan Rodgers has been given a unique advantage from the performance because Sterling proved he’s a far more versatile player than last season suggested.
Sterling progressed well at right midfield for Liverpool last season, which is where he created the form that got him into England’s World Cup squad in the first place.
The fact he’s now proven that he can play centrally, effectively means that Rodgers has extra options looking ahead to next season.
The Liverpool boss will be fully aware of the areas he needs to improve but he could now consider Sterling as a centrally based player along with his role as a right sided midfielder.
Liverpool need a winger this summer, but Rodgers has always stressed that he won’t make changes for the sake of doing so.
If he brings in someone like Alexis Sanchez or Pedro from Barcelona or Xherdan Shaqiri from Bayern Munich, it could provide Rodgers with the luxury if using Sterling more in a central position.
No part of his attacking threat was lost from the change Rodgers made.
Sterling looked superb in a variety of positions across the middle of the team, attacking well and putting some very experienced defenders onto the back foot.
He also showed a great ability to read the game, which is important for any player in a central position.
He picked up the ball facing his own goal and was able to turn and attack quickly, which made him difficult to contain.
It’s a significant performance because Rodgers will be looking for Sterling to reinvent himself next season, as sides find new and effective tactical ways to keep him quiet from the right midfield role.
Should Liverpool consider using Sterling centrally?