The England camp are growingly concerned for the welfare of Raheem Sterling with senior officials advising him to stay away from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
According to The Times, Sterling has been left confused as to why he has emerged as England's European Championship scapegoat. A number of players drew criticism after the 1-1 draw with Russia but none more so than the Manchester City winger.
After that game, Sterling posted a message on Instagram with the message “#TheHatedOne” in response, leaving England chiefs unimpressed. He retained his place in the starting XI for England's second game against Wales but once again failed to live up to expectation and was substituted at half-time.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Roy Hodgson took him out of the firing line for the game against Slovakia and now his role in the second round game against Iceland is very much up for debate. Indeed, the England manager has a variety of options in the attacking three and could justifiably stick with Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana.
In fact, the 21-year-old is in such a state of low confidence, there is a chance he may not feature in the competition again. That is why some of the most experienced members of the squad have told him to stop focussing on what his critics are saying on social media and start proving them wrong on the pitch.
Crisis of confidence
It was only last month that The Mirror ran a story saying Sterling is fearing for his future at Manchester City because he does not believe he can snap out of his spell of poor form.
The £49million signing from Liverpool had a poor first season at the Etihad and struggled to adapt to the different style of football. Guardiola is going to make big changes and it is believed he does not see Sterling as one of his key players.
Since leaving Liverpool, Sterling is reportedly of the belief that he has been robbed of his rhythm and belief. There is no word on him regretting the switch, however.
Sterling was particularly affected by the fact that England fans booed him during the first half against Wales. That was followed by more online abuse in which someone set up a crowdfunding effort to buy him a plane ticket back to England.
The page read:
"Let’s face it we’re all sick of seeing this guy mince down the wing and fail to deliver a half decent ball into the box.
"We’ll bring the lad home and then we can all stop cringing every time a gust of wind knocks him over.
"Don’t worry about being generous, we’re of one mind. A penny each will cover it I imagine."
It reached its £200 target within hours and currently stands at £1,354.