Red faces at Anfield as Jordon Ibe smoking photo adds to Raheem Sterling controversy
Liverpool have suffered fresh embarrassment over the off-field behaviour of their players after pictures emerged of rising star Jordon Ibe sharing a shisha pipe with fellow striker Raheem Sterling.
Manager Brendan Rodgers said on Monday night he would speak to Sterling after newspaper photographs showed the winger smoking a pipe and then inhaling nitrous oxide - otherwise known as laughing gas - from a balloon.
It is understood the conversation will be a paternal discussion rather than a more formal encounter involving disciplinary action - despite Rodgers criticising the 20-year-old for "doing something a professional sportsperson should not be doing" by being photographed in compromising situations.
However, within hours of Rodgers issuing that statement yet more pictures were published, this time involving 19-year-old Ibe as well as Sterling. Both are weighing up their contract options at Anfield.
It is understood the photographs were taken earlier this season when the players were on a night out in London.
The club have declined to comment on the latest developments, although they are keen to draw a line under any controversy involving Sterling, with his contract negotiations at such a delicate stage.
Although Rodgers maintains that Sterling's latest controversy is an issue of professionalism, neither the manager nor the club regard it as having damaged Liverpool's reputation.
It has also been made clear that Sterling has not committed a crime or infringed English Football Association regulations by inhaling a 'legal high'.
Rodgers will urge Sterling to consider his actions more carefully and question the motivation of those within his inner circle who placed the video in the public domain just days after the emergence of footage showing him using a shisha pipe. (© Daily Telegraph, London)