Roy Hodgson ready to unleash Raheem Sterling on Italy
Sterling failed to start any of England’s three warm-up matches although his “excellent” training sessions could see the Liverpool man feature
June 9th, 2014
Roy Hodgson is strongly considering the option of playing Raheem Sterling behind Daniel Sturridge when England face Italy on Saturday night, despite the Liverpool winger being on the bench for friendlies against Peru and Ecuador.
Sterling’s red card in the latter encounter saw the youngster suspended for Saturday’s goalless draw against Honduras although it appears that the 19-year-old is excelling in training and the manager might have no option but to play someone whose pace is sure to frighten Italy.
“There is the boy we haven’t seen yet, Raheem Sterling,” said Hodgson.
“There is a good chance he would have played in that position (behind Sturridge against Honduras) had he not been sent off against Ecuador.
“It is not purely Barkley or Rooney, we have got Danny Welbeck who can do it and we have got Sterling.
“Raheem Sterling has been excellent in training. It would have been nice to have given him a game beforehand, but now he’ll have to compete for a place not having had these warm-up games.”
Sterling has the advantage of being a relative unknown and the Italian defence might struggle with the pace that the Liverpool man brings to the team.
His club team-mate Glen Johnson certainly feels that Sterling should be in the starting XI, believing that his pace can hurt the Azzurri in Manaus.
“Raheem was on fire in training on Friday and he looks like he has been around the squad for years,” said Johnson. “I am never one-on-one in sessions against him but in terms of seeing what he can do when he gets on the ball you can see he has learned the game quickly and he can hurt teams.
“It would be ideal if people don’t know what he is capable of and underestimate him a bit. That would definitely work in our favour. He has looked good all year. Probably over 10 yards Raheem is the quickest we have but he is a young kid and he should just get better.”