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Pep Guardiola heaps praise on Raheem Sterling ahead of Man City’s clash with Liverpool

Raheem Sterling
(Image credit: PA )

Pep Guardiola has hailed Raheem Sterling as an "exceptional" player and declared that he will start against Liverpool on Sunday.

There had been some suggestions that the England international could be rested against the Reds, with Gabriel Jesus now fit again.

But Guardiola has no plans to give Sterling the afternoon off despite his previous struggles against his former club.

The winger has developed into a prolific goalscorer at Manchester City (opens in new tab) but he has only found the back of the net once against Liverpool (opens in new tab).

However, Sterling retains the backing of Guardiola, who believes the forward has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years.

“He will be there again,” Guardiola said when asked if Sterling might be rested on Sunday. “There will be a moment when he takes a rest but he is so important for us. That is why we cannot [leave him out]. 

“He is an exceptional player. With his physicality he plays all the minutes. He is one of the most fantastic players I ever had in my career.

“He is a better player than when he arrived. He’s exceptional. I am pretty sure of his mentality and desire to win and improve a lot. He deserves a lot. I wish in three, four, five years he will be a much, much better player than he is today.

“Will he be one of the best in the world if he carries on improving? My advice, I would say to him don’t think about this. It makes no sense. Just enjoy the life; focus and destiny will dictate who he becomes as a player. It depends on him.”

City go into Sunday's meeting with Liverpool in 12th place, although they have played at least one fewer game than most of the teams above them.

Victory over Jurgen Klopp's side would move City to within two points of the defending champions, on whom they have a game in hand.

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