Raheem Sterling says Liverpool can mount top-four challenge

Raheem Sterling says Liverpool will mount a serious challenge for a top-four finish next season.

The 18-year-old, who missed much of the second half of the 2012-13 season with a thigh injury, believes the arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge will make the difference.

"We can definitely be in the top four," Sterling told BBC Sport.

Raheem Sterling factfile

  • Born on 8 December 1994 in Kingston, Jamaica
  • Joins QPR youth academy at the age of 10
  • Moves to Liverpool in February 2010
  • Makes his senior debut on 24 March 2012 as a substitute in a league match against Wigan Athletic
  • Given his first start in the Premier League on 26 August as Liverpool draw 2-2 draw at home to Manchester City
  • Makes full England debut on 14 November 2012 in friendly against Sweden

"We finished the season strongly, so hopefully we can start the new one that way and push for a good position."

Sterling says the influence of manager Brendan Rodgers is beginning to tell on the squad and that the side will improve as he begins his second season in charge.

Liverpool finished their first season under Rodgers seventh in the Premier League table, 12 points off a Champions League spot

"The two signings we brought into the club in January - Coutinho and Sturridge - really kicked the team on," added Sterling.

"I am really looking forward to getting a chance to play with them and have a good season for the team. I really feel we have a strong chance to be in the top four.

"You have to remember this was the manager's first season in charge.

"But you can see the difference he has made, even though we haven't finished in the top four.

"You can see the kind of thing he will do next season."

Sterling has one senior England cap after starting the 4-2 friendly defeat to Sweden in Stockholm last November.

But providing he can stay clear of injury, Sterling has set his sights on securing a place in Roy Hodgson's plans for the 2014 World Cup - should England qualify.

Sterling will miss the European Under-21 Championship in Israel between 5-18 June as he looks to overcome a thigh problem  in time for the start of the 2013-14 season.

"Anyone's dream is to go to a World Cup," said Sterling.

"I have to be realistic and take it step by step, game by game next season.

"I have to try and be a regular for Liverpool first and then hopefully get a chance to get a place in the squad for the World Cup."

On his injury problems, Sterling added: "Hopefully next season I can have the same impact again.

"The injury is getting better. I should be back for pre-season."