Written by • Published 14th October 2014


Image Courtesy of Wauda, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Wauda, flickr.com

The modern-day footballer is expected to be a machine. For Raheem Sterling being human though is simply not good enough in some people’s eyes.

For those of you are unfamiliar with the story, Sterling asked to be rested ahead of England’s European Championship qualifier against Estonia on Sunday night although he did come off the bench to play the last 26 minutes and help England to a 1-0 victory thanks to a late Wayne Rooney free-kick.

In the immediate aftermath of the game, the major talking points were of course about England’s position at the top of Group E with three wins out of three and Wayne Rooney one goal closer to overtaking Boddy Charlton as England’s all-time leading England goal scorer. However, Raheem Sterling’s decision to tell Roy Hodgson he was too tired to start the game has divided opinion amongst the media, fans and former professionals. So much so that Sterling has been forced to come out and defend his decision on social media.

Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand have both offered their support to the Liverpool teenager.

A view not shared by former England striker Alan Shearer:

“Too tired! He is 19 – and it’s October. I genuinely have never heard something like that in my career … This will stick with Sterling for some time, believe me. The working man who is up at 6am and home at 8pm does not want to hear how tired a 19-year-old professional footballer is.”

Let’s look at the facts though before making any judgements. Sterling has already featured 14 times for club and country this season and has started on 12 occasions. He has spent 1,105 minutes on the pitch this season, the third highest in the England squad with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill leading the way.

Last season Sterling made 44 appearances in total, including three times during England’s World Cup campaign in Brazil. An intense Premier League season, in which Liverpool and Sterling excelled, followed by a World Cup, followed by pre-season, the return of the Premier League and Champions League campaigns, is there any surprise that he needs a rest?

A player knows his own body, knows how he feels and it shouldn’t matter whether he is playing for club or country. Questioning his patriotism or suggesting that he doesn’t want to play for England is way off the mark. A 19 year old teenager admitting that he needs a rest and is feeling the strain of being one of the future stars of English football shouldn’t be something that is questioned, he should be given the support by club and country, something that I am sure will happen.

I have to agree with the @MailOnline journalist Neil Ashton @neilashton_ and his view that on the back of this England need to assess the reasons why a player would pull out of the starting line-up more than 24 hours before kick-off.

Many fans have questioned whether it is another sign of a player putting his club before his country and have questioned his passion but when you have a squad of 21 players surely the point is to use as many of the players as possible and give them the experience of playing competitive international football so when they are ready when called upon.

England won the fixture in Sterling’s absence and the win put us in a commanding position in the group. We have won four games on the bounce for the first time in five years and are yet to concede a goal since the World Cup. Fans need to remember that this is a young squad that is developing and we need to support the England team and look beyond what has happened in one game. We should be looking to the future of English football, something Sterling is certainly a part of.

Something tells me though that Sterling’s absence will continue to dominate the headlines for some time yet.

I’m glad the Premier League is back this weekend.