Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling could be deployed as Roy Hodgson’s pivotal No.10 at the World Cup, as sources claim that he has been practising in the role behind-closed-doors.
The Independent states that the 19-year-old, who is predominantly used on the flanks at club level by Brendan Rodgers, may be utilised as England’s main attacking playmaker as the Three Lions attempt to navigate their way through a tricky group in Brazil. It’s believed that the youngster could play just behind the striker as Hodgson looks to make use of his quick feet, and the 66-year-old might have tasked him with such a job against Honduras, had Sterling not been suspended following his red card in the previous friendly against Ecuador.
The idea of Sterling occupying such an important position might not sit too well with the England faithful, as he only has four senior caps to his name to date. Though the Jamaican-born man enjoyed yet another scintillating campaign for Liverpool last term, there would surely remain doubts over his ability to dictate the game when he has the likes of Andrea Pirlo for company. England square up against Italy in their first fixture of the World Cup on Saturday in Manaus, in what could prove to be one of the more important opening matches.
Sterling and co. also have Uruguay and Costa Rica to contend with in order to ensure that they qualify for the knockout rounds, in a group which many are expecting to be the most hotly contested in this summer’s competition. Such opposition will undoubtedly pose a significant threat, and as such Hodgson’s squad selections for each match are likely to duly be a source of controversy.
On the one hand there’s the approach which The Independent are predicting he could take - with a raw talent being included to inject pace and unpredictability into the side. However the former Inter Milan coach may opt to go down the more tried and trusted route in fielding players he knows are comfortable with the inevitable pressure playing at a major international tournament carries.
In the past such an approach has been bemoaned by supporters who argue that players should be picked on form over reputation. If this is the case then Sterling will most probably be a certainty to start against Italy, as his link up play with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and, perhaps more importantly, Daniel Sturridge was lauded by the Anfield faithful for much of last season.
Naturally there’s plenty of competition for the position, and Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley or even Wayne Rooney could be an alternative option.