Much of the post International football window break in England has been regarding Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, who when asked by Manager Roy Hodgson, admitted to being tired, and as such, was rested for the uninspiring 1-0 away victory against Estonia. But being played every week by Liverpool, and a firm starter for England, do the stats back up Sterling as the next Three Lions star?
The short answer appears to be yes – in the Euro Fantasy League stats, Sterling emerges as the top ranked England midfielder, on 85 points from the season so far, only trailing Angel Di Maria, Nacer Chadli and Cesc Fabregas. And it doesn’t appear to be short term either. Last season, where Sterling spent some time out of the Reds set-up, he still managed to secure his place as 4th best England midfielder, behind only Steven Gerrard, Adam Lallana, and Adam Johnson – three players he has leapfrogged considerably this term.
As a result, it would appear one or both of Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson is looking to protect Sterling, at least in terms of his international appearances. Rodgers has been criticised for suggesting the winger needs a break, having played him for 120 minutes in the League Cup against Middlesbrough only last month, but in any case, clashes with San Marino and Estonia were never going to trouble England.
Sterling, as the stats above prove, will be key to England’s performances against the better sides in France 2016, and for Liverpool in the rest of the season, and the need to have England’s top midfielder will need to be balanced with a requirement to not burn him out, as has been suggested occurred with Michael Owen to name one.
All eyes will be on Rodgers in coming weeks as Liverpool face QPR, Real Madrid, Hull City, Swansea City, and Newcastle United, games that with the obvious exception of Madrid, could be ideal matches to rest England’s next top midfield star.