Gerrard backs Sterling’s case for England’s right flank strategy

The veteran midfielder bats for his Liverpool teammate's cause for Brazil after the injury to Theo Walcott.
Liverpool's midfielder Raheem Sterling, left, will be an ideal choice for the right flank, feels Steven Gerrard. Andrew Yates / AFP
Liverpool's midfielder Raheem Sterling, left, will be an ideal choice for the right flank, feels Steven Gerrard. Andrew Yates / AFP

Steven Gerrard has suggested Raheem Sterling could be the ideal deputy for the injured Theo Walcott at the World Cup and championed his Liverpool teammate’s cause.

The England captain believes manager Roy Hodgson will be compelled to take the teenager to Brazil if Sterling maintains his recent fine form.

The 19-year-old, who only began one league game this season before December, has started Liverpool’s last ten games, scoring three goals, in a timely return to prominence as Walcott was ruled out for six months with a cruciate ligament injury.

Gerrard said: “He’s in top form at a fantastic time. I’m obviously disappointed for Theo with his injury but I’m sure Roy Hodgson is looking out for who is going to replace him and Raheem’s performances of late have been sensational.

“I’ve said to him: ‘You keep your performance at that level and you are going to make it very difficult for Roy Hodgson not to take you.’”

Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner are other contenders to operate on the right flank for England.

But Gerrard added: “If you are looking at like-for-like – pace down the wing, someone who can make, score and create – then Raheem has got a fantastic chance. Everyone knows Roy Hodgson: he likes a wide player who can defend as well. He’s got everything going for him.”

Sterling excelled in Liverpool’s 5-3 win over Stoke on Sunday when Daniel Sturridge, who had been sidelined since November because of an ankle problem, made his comeback.

The striker came off the bench to score his 13th goal of the season and extend his prolific run since he swapped Chelsea for Merseyside a year ago.

But Gerrard believes there is scope for further improvement and feels that if Sturridge demonstrates the desire, he can establish himself in the top bracket of players on the planet.

He explained: “He has huge potential. He can be whatever he wants to be. He can be a world-class player without a doubt. It’s all about Daniel now. Does he want to go and grab it? He’s got all the tools.”

Liverpool ended a miserable run at the Britannia Stadium, where they had only claimed two points from five previous visits, to win in what Gerrard felt was a test of their mettle, especially after they let a two-goal lead slip.

He said: “I wondered whether our character was going to come through and if we could get back in front but we turned it around and won the game emphatically. We had never won there in the Premier League. They had lost one game in the league this season at the Britannia. That tells you it all.”

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: January 14, 2014 04:00 AM

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