England’s 1-0 win over Estonia on Sunday was somewhat overshadowed by the post match debate over Raheem Sterling.
Manager Roy Hodgson revealed that the 19-year-old asked not to be started against Estonia, claiming that he was in need of a rest.
At 0-0 in the second half, Hodgson brought on Sterling before Wayne Rooney struck the only goal of the game.
Here is what our writers make of it all.
Adam Tomlinson (Deputy Sports Editor)
You can see it from both sides of the spectrum. Yes Sterling has played a lot of football this season and has almost been ever present in Liverpool’s side therefore he could possibly feel jaded.
However, as a nineteen year old professional footballer in many people’s eyes he should be fit enough to play for both club and country on a regular basis and when selected into a squad it should be the manager’s decision on his selection.
After considering those two you then have to look at the influence of Brendan Rodgers on the current and previous England squads. Following Sturridge’s injury during the last international break Rodgers will be very protective over the English starlet so seeing him declared as ‘tired’.
Adam Allcroft (SU Sports Editor)
I think this might have something to do with Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers is clearly annoyed at how Daniel Sturridge has been overplayed by England and the news that Dejan Lovren was forced off with injury on international duty so they sent messages to Sterling to force a game off.
After all, players probably care more about club than country now!
When you’re paid the amount he is there is no doubt that you are expected to give everything for club and country.
However, if you are feeling “tired” as a professional you are well within your rights to ask to be rested simply because the last thing you want is a player on the pitch who isn’t 100% which increases the chance of injury.
I feel that any player has the right to ask to be rested whether that is when playing for England or not.
As professionals, they know their own bodies and not resting them could resort in an injury or losing them to injury.
To be fair to Sterling, he does put 100% into every game, he is entitled.
However, he has a lot of free time and is very young meaning he should be at the peak of his fitness so hopefully he wasn’t trying to get out of the game as he didn’t see Estonia as a worthy opponent.
I think he just needs a bit more discipline which will get him on track.
Seems like a Sunday league footballers excuse to me.
Though to be fair you don’t want players on the pitch who say they are not fit enough.
For a young player you’d think he’d be full of energy and able to play two games in a week.
Seems a bit suspicious but there’s little you can do about it – you can not force a player to play.
You can see people’s criticisms in that he’s young and we’ve only just started the season so he shouldn’t be tired.
However, if he’d have not have said anything and had a poor game, that would’ve been to the detriment of the team.
I think it’s a good idea to rest him at times anyway, regardless of whether he thinks he’s tired himself.
He’s had a lot of pressure thrust onto him at such a young age, Liverpool and England are both virtually building their teams around him and I think managers have to be careful with him if he’s ever going to live up to his full potential.
Ranking third in the list of most minutes played this season within the squad, it’s understandable for a 19 year old to make this decision.
Obviously it seems strange to see anybody turn down the chance to start for their country, but Sterling himself knows his physical boundaries better than anybody.
After all, he made the difference in his brief appearance on Sunday, lulling defenders into fouls and winning the free kick which led to Rooney’s goal.
There had to be a story coming out of two boring, pointless qualifiers, and Sterling saying, “I’m tired,” is that story.
There are two bigger problems England must deal with. The country vs club rivalry which is still evident after Sturridge’s latest injury, and also the fact England clearly struggled to break down an average Estonia side.
Sterling, at 19, is within his right to tell the manager he’s tired in comparison to hiding his fatigue and worst case scenario failing to track back an opponent and being at fault for a goal.
Having played over a thousand minutes of football already this season, it is understandable Sterling will be a bit fatigued and having seen the likes of Michael Owen burning out after starting out very young it isn’t a surprise England will be cautious with Sterling.
Saying that you can’t help feeling like Hodgson has let Sterling down in a way.
Yes, a 19-year-old winger should be able to play two games in a week but players know their own bodies better than anyone else and when they come to a manager with concerns they should be able to trust that it won’t go public.
What people really need to remember is that Raheem Sterling is still only nineteen years of age.
What other nineteen year old in the world plays week in, week out for both club and country?
Yes he is arguably the best teenager in Europe right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to perform at that level every week the way you would expect some of the more senior internationals to.
The more pressing matter should be how our national team has gotten itself into a situation whereby a youngster like Sterling is already one of England’s most important players.
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