15 October 2014 11:49
Former England midfielder Paul Scholes hopes that Raheem Sterling was not pressured into dropping out of the starting XI against Estonia.
Sterling came on as a second-half substitute in England’s 1-0 win Euro 2016 qualifying win in Tallinn, with manager Roy Hodgson claiming that the Liverpool winger had approached him on Saturday asking not be included from the start.
That apparent request came after Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers – who was angered by the thigh injury suffered by striker Daniel Sturridge while on international duty – claimed that the 19-year-old was in danger of being “burned out”.
But Scholes does not believe Hodgson was to blame for the blow sustained by Sturridge and is hopeful that Rodgers did not step in and urge Sterling to pull out of the starting line-up.
Writing in his column in The Independent, Scholes said: “That injury to Sturridge was not Hodgson’s fault. It could have happened to any player from any club. What has created the problem has been Rodgers complaining about the two-day recovery process in the aftermath of the injury.
“As for Sterling himself, I really hope that there has been no pressure placed on him by Rodgers or anyone at his club to say that he was feeling tired, or heavy-legged on Saturday. I really hope that his decision to tell Hodgson that he was not at his best was his, and his alone.
“At 19, I think he is a good player, with the potential to be a great one. I find it hard to believe that he wants to miss games. He has played 1,105 minutes over 14 games this season, 11 of them starts.
“Yes, he played at the World Cup but that was in June. It might have taken an emotional toll but at 19 years old, it will not be affecting his energy levels.
“Sterling does not seem the type to me to complain. I see him as one of those brave wingers, a tough kid who gets kicked and then picks himself up again. He gets on with it and does not hide on the pitch, a bit like Cristiano Ronaldo once did at Manchester United.
“And if he wants to reach that level one day, he will have noticed that the likes of Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have played up to 70 games some seasons.”