Roy Hodgson has praised Raheem Sterling for admitting he was too tired to play for England against Estonia in Tallinn on Sunday.
The Liverpool forward has emerged as one of the brightest talents in the Premier League due to a number of stellar performances for Liverpool, and he has shown signs that his importance will be replicated at international level. However, the 19-year-old advised Hodgson that he was too tired to start the latest Euro 2016 qualifier, which came days after he played just 45 minutes against San Marino.
Hodgson therefore left Sterling on the bench, although he did introduce him to the action on 64 minutes when the scoreline was still blank. A Wayne Rooney free-kick on 74 minutes was eventually enough to maintain England’s 100% record in qualification, but all the talk afterwards was focused on the admission from a teenager that he was tired despite the current season still being relatively new.
“People don’t like it when you simplistically tell the truth,” argued Hodgson. “Is it common? I don’t really know. But I think it should be, especially at international level when there are so many good players trying to get their hands on the shirt. I don’t think you should keep hold of it when maybe you are feeling you’re not at your best.
“I think it would be wrong of players to try to fool me into thinking they are ready and 100% when they aren’t because they are robbing somebody else of an opportunity. Raheem had done the warm up and he came to me and said: ‘Look I really am feeling a little tired, I am not in my best form at the moment because I am feeling a bit tired.’ It was fatigue he hadn’t managed to shake off after the San Marino game.
“We have to take players’ welfare into consideration and there are times when top league teams with Champions League football are going to have a situation when players suffer from physical and mental fatigue. As it turned out, on this occasion it was a perfectly good thing to do. I think it was the right thing to do as Raheem wasn’t as sharp in the game against San Marino as he’s been. But I wouldn’t want that situation every time as I really want my best players to play when called upon.”
England have now won all three of their qualifying matches in Group E, and even at this early stage, it would take something calamitous for them to fail to reach the Finals in France. Slovenia provide the opposition for the next match in November, which is whilst of greater importance, is unlikely to match the excitement which will follow three days later when Hodgson and co travel to Celtic Park to face Scotland.
Is it right that a 19-year-old professional should be too tired to represent his country, or is Sterling taking the biscuit? Let us know what you think below.