“When I gave him a break at the start of the season, he didn't want it. He didn't want the breather. He is a player that has to play two or three times a week to be on top of his game – one game a week is no good to him. He needs to be playing.
“And you see the response you get from him. His work has never dropped. He is a real team player and trains every day. He is never in the treatment room and then he comes out and performs. As the ball moves he finds the spaces.
“His cleverness finds the space and he is thriving. It will be fantastic to see him develop.”
Sterling’s strike was the second of his career and set Liverpool on their way to a third win in four games over the festive period, a run which has moved them up to eighth and five points adrift of a European qualification berth.
“You have got to give massive credit to my players,” said Rodgers. “This was the fourth game over the holiday period and, when you look around the country, there are a lot of tired performances.
"You look at that and marry it with their intensity and they were fantastic.
“We took nine points out of 12 over Christmas, but we were disappointed with the Stoke performance in which we let everyone down.
“In the second half of the season we can pick up the tempo and kick on. It's all about consistency and we can hopefully get that over the coming months.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers expects Joe Cole to complete a permanent move to former club West Ham United today.
Cole travelled down to London for a medical with Liverpool prepared to cancel the 31-year-old’s contract and negotiate a settlement.
“I am not sure if a deal has been totally agreed,” said Rodgers. “Any settlement is something the people upstairs will do.
“I don't know the ins and outs of that and we will see what happens in the next 24 hours.”