Daniel Sturridge has leapt to the defence of under-fire ex-Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling, suggesting the criticism of the 21-year-old’s performances at the Euro 2016 Championships this summer has been unfair, as reported by the BBC.
The England striker talked up Sterling’s ability and the potential he possesses, suggesting that he was only going to keep getting better.
“I feel the criticism he has received has been harsh because he is 21,” said Sturridge.
“He has performed at the highest level for the last few years and has played for big clubs.
“In the games he has played for England, he has not performed as badly as people have made out – he has done quite well.”
Clearly Sturridge wasn’t actually paying attention during the England games when he was on the bench, or he would have seen Sterling’s shocking performances. He has been totally ineffective throughout the tournament so far, and has offered absolutely nothing to the England attack. On the rare occasion he was able to get on the end of a ball and get a run on goal, his finishing was woeful and his final balls were poor.
Sturridge is clearly still loyal to his international teammate though, as you’d expect him to be – even if you’d rather he weren’t.
“It is just a matter of time before you see him take his game to the next level and I am sure that will be very soon,” he continued.
“Raheem is one of the strongest; he has got thick skin.
“He doesn’t worry too much about what people say. He has to worry about his game and that is it. That is all he ever does.
“He works so hard on the training field and is one of the most talented players in the world.
“We look at players playing for so many different countries but you can’t name many 21-year-olds who have played as many first-team games at the highest level as Raheem has.”
We obviously all despise Sterling after the way he forced his way out of the club, but looking at his progression (or lack-thereof) with both Manchester City and England we arguably did a fantastic bit of business by selling him for a massive £49m (via The Telegraph).
Sturridge is right when he says he’s still young and has time to improve, but his career has stalled horribly and who knows how long it will be until he recovers. Players need to learn about the dangers of forcing their way out of the clubs that gave them their chance too early, as it can really damage their careers.
It’s unclear whether Roy Hodgson has lost faith in Sterling or whether he’ll get another start this tournament, but his recent performances certainly suggest he should be watching from the bench.