Liverpool and England attacker Raheem Sterling was rested for the match against Estonia. He came on as a substitute in the second half.
Roy Hodgson claimed before the match that Sterling was tired and had asked to sit this game out. Adam Lallana was instead started in his place. The England boss earned himself a lot of criticism for proclaiming that Sterling asked for rest which indicated rather poor management.
After the match, when asked about the situation, Hodgson said, “He (Raheem) said, ‘I’m feeling tired, I’d rather sit this one out. It’s unfair if all the expectations to give the player a little bit of a break fall on me.”
Sterling came on in the 64th minute for Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson, and was fouled for the free-kick that England captain Wayne Rooney scored from to give England the win and maintain the country’s 100% record after three games in Group E.
“He broke into the Liverpool team, had a fantastic season and then went to the World Cup. He is only a 19-year-old,” added Hodgson.
“It is not as simple as the training you are having may be taking a bit of juice from your legs.
“There is an awful lot going on in your head as well, so perhaps it is quite simply that the season has not started as well for Liverpool, and he is in the spotlight for England and Liverpool. Maybe that has had some effect. I don’t know. It’s a theory.
“To be fair to the lad [Sterling], I had a decision to make because Lallana was so good in the second half against San Marino.
“It was simple one. When he suggested he wasn’t 100% in terms of fitness and recovery, it would have been foolish to leave a player like Lallana, who is raring to go, out of the team.
“Having Sterling up your sleeve can be a very, very important factor. There’s nothing wrong with him. I’m sure when he goes back to Liverpool he’ll be fine.”
Sterling has played full six matches for Liverpool since 16th September, including 120 minutes against Middlesbrough, so the fact that he was tired didn’t come as a shock to most.
Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand came out in support of the 19 year old Sterling saying it was fair on his part asking to be rested. He tweeted:
Sterling – tired, fair play to him. English players are normally too proud to do that unlike our foreign friends. #FreshWhenItMattersMost
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) October 13, 2014