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Raheem Sterling: Liverpool Forward Defended By PFA Chief

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Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling's apparent inhaling of laughing gas will be “a minor blip” in a “fantastic career”, says a players' union chief.

The 20-year-old appears to inhale nitrous oxide in a video published on The Sun website.

Sterling will be spoken to about his lifestyle by manager Brendan Rodgers.

But Bobby Barnes, deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said: “He's made a mistake and people are human.”

Barnes added: “Nobody would condone the use of these types of substances, whether legal or otherwise, as footballers are seen as role models.

“But many of us look back at things we did in our teens and early 20s and wish we hadn't done them.”

“I am sure this will be a minor blip on his path to a fantastic career.”

Sterling, who scored in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield on Monday, also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons at the weekend when the Sunday Mirror published pictures of the player allegedly smoking a shisha-pipe.

John Bramhall, fellow deputy chief executive at the PFA, says players are educated from a young age about how to lead their lives.

“Every club has its own lifestyle programmes, offered from the age of 16 onwards – and sometimes earlier depending on a club's academy system – where they tell young lads exactly what is expected of them,” said Bramhall.

“The scrutiny from the media has really increased, but I think players are becoming more aware of it and how they must conduct themselves.

“Raheem's is a one-off case, I am sure Liverpool will look into it and if Raheem wants guidance, the club will be able to provide it because they have a good programme in place.”

Sterling's actions have also been played down by a professor in substance use at Liverpool John Moores University.

“I don't think the club should be particularly worried,” Professor Harry Sumnall told BBC Merseyside.

“Smoking and alcohol have a much bigger impact on sporting performance and are issues which affect the whole of society.

“The numbers using legal highs such as laughing gas and the harms associated with them are relatively small.”