Southgate hails Sterling’s influence
Gareth Southgate has praised Raheem Sterling again, after hearing Croatia have circled him as a World Cup semi-final dangerman.
Sterling has come under fierce criticism from Three Lions fans for his displays at Russia 1018, but Southgate continues to keep faith with the Manchester City speedster.
And the England manager revealed he is not alone in thinking the 23-year-old is vital to England’s hopes, with many big names backing his assertion.
On the eve of Wednesday’s Moscow showdown, he said: “I’m not surprised that Croatia have identified Raheem as a key player.
“If you look at all of our attacking patterns and the way that our front four have combined and played, he’s been instrumental in that, so I think he’s a player that’s really appreciated by the team.
“I’ve seen lots of ex-players and had lots of messages from ex-players as well who have the same view, so we’re really pleased with his contribution, and his work-rate as well without the ball has been incredible for us.
“I think Raheem has been fundamental to the way that we have played – his movement, the positions he takes up, his pressing of the ball, his work-rate for the team, the winning of free kicks and corners, his speed to stretch teams.
“He was a constant threat to Sweden. Of course he hasn’t scored the goals he would have liked to have scored but for myself and the players he has been a crucial part of the way that we have been playing.”