Roy Hodgson sprang a surprise prior to England’s ill-fated Euro 2016 last-16 tie against Iceland by naming the under-fire Raheem Sterling in his starting line-up.
The Manchester City winger, who has failed to perform consistently during his debut season at the Etihad Stadium following his £49 million summer transfer from Liverpool, had flattered to deceive throughout the group stages.
Sterling was dropped to the bench for the 0-0 draw against Slovakia but returned to the line-up against Iceland, who recorded a famous 2-1 victory over the Three Lions in Nice.
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According to Sky Sports’ sources, it wasn’t just England fans who were confused by Hodgson’s decision to select the 21-year-old in such an important match.
It’s understood that senior players - presumably the likes of Wayne Rooney, James Milner, Joe Hart and Gary Cahill - actively questioned the selection of Sterling against Iceland.
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Sterling won England's penalty
Hodgson, who will face the media on Tuesday, may feel his decision was justified.
After all, it was Sterling who won the penalty which led to Rooney putting England ahead from the penalty spot in the fourth minute.
Sterling, in truth, did little else during the remaining 56 minutes he was on the pitch and was eventually subbed off for Jamie Vardy.
Sky Sports’ sources have also revealed that senior England players lost faith in Hodgson, who resigned after the match, during the tournament in France.
Sky Sports' report on senior England players
On their website, Sky Sports have listed a number of interesting points about how the senior England players felt as Euro 2016 played out.
The senior members of the England squad were reportedly…
- Surprised by the use of a 4-3-3 formation, which had barely been implemented in any of England's friendly matches in 2016.
- Questioned the selection of Raheem Sterling for the Iceland game, after he showed signs of lacking confidence throughout the tournament.
- Felt momentum had been lost by making six changes for the Slovakia game, which they drew 0-0.
- Wondered why Adam Lallana did not start against Iceland after his impressive performances during the group stages
- Debated among themselves the merits of playing Wayne Rooney in midfield, for the first time in his England career.
- Were left frustrated that Marcus Rashford was left to warm up for approximately 10 minutes before he was sent on for the final four minutes of the Iceland game with England in desperate need of a goal.
- Felt his pre-prepared statement at the post-Iceland press conference was an indication he may have doubted the team's chances before the game.
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