Raheem has something to prove to Gareth Southgate.
Chelsea’s 28-year-old winger was not included in the latest England squad despite some recent impressive performances.
Last Sunday, he put on a great performance in the 4-4 draw between Manchester City and Tottenham.
We take a look at Sterling’s performance as England prepares to face Malta in a Friday night match.
Sterling started his season relatively slow, but it became apparent that Mauricio pochettino would make him shine.
The return of his form was not triggered by a brace against Luton last August, or a stellar performance at Burnley in the 4-1 victory.
Sterling’s spark appears to be ignited by key games against London rivals Tottenham, and City champions.
The former was constantly at risk from him. He broke in repeatedly behind Spurs high defensive line, and provided the vital assist for Nicolas Jackson’s first goal.
Chelsea’s no7 had another strike in that match ruled out, but he was not denied in City’s first-half game when converting Reece James low cross.
Sterling’s impressive display on Sunday came after England had announced their squad, but he will continue to have Euro 2024 in mind.
Make a Case
Southgate is sure to have noticed Sterling’s two last performances, even though England has a wealth of attacking options.
His ability to impact important matches is evident. He’s one of the best players in the country.
Sterling has played with greater freedom and more confidence after Pochettino took over.
After being given permission to charge at the defenders against Spurs and City, he is ranked first for attempts to take them on (67).
Sterling’s ability to play from the front has been demonstrated by his joint third place in the Top Flight for the number of possessions he won in the offensive third.
This was evident against City, as he repeatedly harassed defenders. He also proved to be a good team player.
The virtue of patience
Sterling will not panic as the Euros that Germany is set to adopt next summer nearer.
He can add to the 82 England cap he already has if he performs at the same level as his two most recent performances.
Southgate stated last week that the door was open to all players, not just Raheem, but also those who weren’t part of this team. There’s no question about it.
He’s been a key part in our journey over the past few years.
I can only reiterate what I have said at the previous squad selection meetings. We have a good squad, and we won against Italy in a spectacular way, who should we exclude? “It’s that simple.”
Sterling’s place will be hard to regain, but with so many talented players available he can force himself back in the mix and cause Southgate some headaches.