England manager Roy Hodgson believes resting Raheem Stirling was the 'right thing to do' against Estonia, and insists that it was not entirely his own decision.
"He said, 'I'm feeling tired, I'd rather sit this one out'," the 67-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live after the 1-0 win.
"It's unfair if all the expectations to give the player a little bit of a break fall on me."
Hodgson eventually brought Sterling into the game with 26 minutes of normal time remaining, replacing fellow teammate Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool youngster won the free-kick from which Wayne Rooney scored the winning goal for the visitors, and his overall impact on the game was evident.
Criticism of Hodgson
The Three Lions boss has come under some criticism from pundits and former players alike, suggesting his decision may have been influenced by Reds boss Brenden Rogers.
Danny Mills told BBC Sport: "As far as Raheem Sterling, I'd want to play every international game I could at this stage. I don't really believe a player his age will have gone to the manager and told him he's tired. Has there been influence from elsewhere? The club manager, for example? Who knows."
Hodgson responded to those comments without hesitation, justifying his decision to play Adam Lallana ahead of his club teammate.
Easy managerial decision
"It was a simple one (decision). When he [Sterling] suggested he wasn't 100% in terms of fitness and recovery, it would have been foolish to leave a player like Lallana, who is raring to go, out of the team," he added.
"Having Sterling up your sleeve can be a very, very important factor. There's nothing wrong with him. I'm sure when he goes back to Liverpool he'll be fine."
There lies the problem, of course, as the club vs country debate hits the headlines once again. If Sterling was indeed tired, then he helped England out by saying he wasn't 100%. But then that's unlikely to stop him starting for Liverpool at the weekend.