Champions League no excuse, says Sterling

Raheem Sterling has called on Liverpool to adapt to the added demands of UEFA Champions League football.

Liverpool are back in Europe's elite club competition after a five-year exile this season, but that has been overshadowed by the Merseyside club's early struggles in the Premier League.

Brendan Rodgers' men - runners-up last season - have lost three of their past five top-flight fixtures this term following Saturday's 3-1 defeat to West Ham, which came after Tuesday's narrow 2-1 win over Ludogorets.

Liverpool are already seven points adrift of unbeaten leaders Chelsea, but 19-year-old attacker Sterling - on the scoresheet at Upton Park - is not using the Champions League as a reason for his team's poor form domestically.

"We can't use playing in the Champions League as an excuse because there are other teams in the Premier League doing exactly the same as us who are winning games," Sterling told the Liverpool Echo.

"The games are coming thick and fast but that’s what we want - to be competing at the top end of the Premier League and in the Champions League.

"What it means now is that after the second recovery day after a game we’re straight back into another game. That's the way it's going to be this season and that's something we need to get used to.

Liverpool have badly missed star striker Daniel Sturridge, who sustained a thigh injury while on international duty with England earlier this month.

Sturridge is expected to return to the squad for Saturday's crucial Merseyside derby against Everton - and Sterling cannot wait to line-up alongside the former Chelsea man again.

"Daniel is a massive miss for us with his goals and the way he plays in behind defenders," added the teenager.

"Him coming back should add another dimension to the team."