Liverpool's rising star Raheem Sterling will stand trial in May over the alleged assault of a woman in the city, a court was told on Friday.
Winger Sterling, 18, who made his senior England debut in November, has been charged with common assault after a 27-year-old woman known to the player suffered "slight" facial injuries, according to police.
Sterling did not attend Friday's hearing at Liverpool Magistrates' Court but entered a formal not guilty plea through his lawyer, Mick Hogan.
It was the third hearing in relation to the charge that Sterling had not attended and District Judge Wendy Lloyd warned the player the trial would proceed without him on May 20 -- the day after the Premier League season ends -- if he failed to turn up.
"I am sure he understands that he will need to attend," she said. "If he doesn't the trial will proceed without him."
Earlier in the brief hearing, Lloyd questioned Sterling's absence by saying: "It would be much more useful if he was here. But anyway, there it is. We have got what we have got."
The alleged offence is said to have taken place in the Toxteth area of Liverpool on November 2.
Jamaica-born Sterling was initially summonsed to a youth court as the incident happened when he was 17, but he turned 18 in December and the matter was transferred to the adult courts.
Sterling made his England bow against Sweden and during the early part of the ongoing Premier League season was widely praised for his impressive performances on the pitch.
However, he has not completed a full 90 minutes since December and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said Tuesday that fatigue had played a key factor in checking the progress of the rising star.