Gareth Southgate hints at Raheem Sterling as a future England captain

Raheem Sterling has been backed as captain quality by Southgate.

Raheem Sterling is maturing into one of the best players England have had in quite some time.

The Manchester City winger has enjoyed a great Premier League season, quietly playing himself into Player of the Season contention.

The doubts that surrounded him for years over his ability to produce goals have been put to bed after his 18-goal season last year has been followed up with similar.

But one doubt has stuck around: can he do it for England.

Sterling's record for his country is less than impressive; he went into this season with just two goals in over 40 caps.

He bagged a brace against Spain in October, though, and this week he even grabbed his first international hat-trick.

Sterling's progress has been brilliant and along with Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho, he looks set to play an integral role for England going forward.

But it's not just on the pitch where he's impressed - Gareth Southgate has hailed Sterling's qualities as a captain around the team.

“In between November and March, observing his maturity and influence, I felt that would be a good step for him," said Southgate, reports the Mirror.

Sterling collects the match ball after his hat-trick.

"I think when you speak to other young players, he's one of the first they speak about making them feel really comfortable in the environment. That was a really important move for him.

“We've had three or four players captaining the team, and Raheem is developing lots of the qualities those guys have. He has those qualities.

"It's difficult to talk about a potential captain when the captain, Harry Kane, is in the hotel waiting to go out for dinner, but in terms of his personal qualities, he's shown some outstanding personal qualities.”

The way Sterling dealt with 'attention' from certain corners of the press this year has earned deserved plaudits and he appears to be taking that maturity even further.

He's developed into a player England can be proud of. Perhaps a leadership role really isn't out of the question.

News Now - Sport News