England international Sterling should be part of City’s squad for tomorrow’s Capital One Cup final against the Reds, despite not taking part in training with the main group yesterday when the winger, along with defensive duo Vincent Kompany and Bacary Sagna, was instead recovering following an impressive 90-minute performance against Dynamo Kiev in midweek.
It will be just the second time Sterling has faced Liverpool since his acrimonious exit from Merseyside in the summer and he was largely anonymous in his first reunion when City were thrashed 4-1 at home by Jurgen Klopp’s men in November.
A return to Anfield on Wednesday, and an even more hostile reception, is to come for Sterling tomorrow, but Pellegrini has backed his player to block out any Wembley heckling with the domestic season’s first piece of silverware on the line.
“I think that for every player it’s not comfortable to play against their old team, everyone has friends inside the club,” the City boss said.
“But he’s a professional player, he came here to win titles. He wants to win and I’m sure that he will have a very good performance.
“I don’t think that he must prove (a point). I hope that he will be focused just on having a good performance and not thinking about the boos that he may receive during the game or about what happened in the past. He’s now a player of Manchester City.”
Sterling needs to score just once more to equal his tally for his final season at Anfield of 11, with Pellegrini insisting there is plenty more to come from the 21-year-old, even if he will not be around at the Etihad Stadium to see his career progress beyond this summer when he makes way for Pep Guardiola.
The City boss has no regrets about splashing out nearly £50m to lure him away from Liverpool and thinks his first season in Manchester will be considered a success if he has a major role in delivering trophies.
“If we win a couple of titles and Raheem has an important performance, it will be a good season for him,” Pellegrini added.
“I don’t think it’s good to analyse his season in this moment. He has good things, bad things; he was a very important player against Dynamo.
“He is a very young player so he must improve every year. If you ask me if I am happy to bring him here this year - yes, for the moment I’m very happy. I think he will continue improving and giving a lot of things to our squad.”