Zee Media Bureau/ Rajdeep Saha
New Delhi: Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling is growing as a footballer and that too at a rapid pace. The England rookie has given a headache to national team manager Roy Hodgson and that headache for Roy is worth in every account. With two months left for the eventual showdown in Brazil, Sterling`s form for Liverpool makes him a serious contender in sealing a berth in England`s 23-man squad for the World Cup. Sterling leads the list in the potential number of wingers Hodgson will have in his kitty and he may outshine the other probables with his current form.
Sterling`s opening goal for Liverpool against Manchester City on Sunday was a masterpiece. The 19-year-old ran on to a pinpoint through ball from Luis Suarez, and dummied both City skipper Vincent Kompany and goal-keeper Joe Hart to slot into an unguarded net after just seven minutes. Sterling has formed an unassailable partnership with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
The movement in their play suggest that and the goals too make a point. Sterling has been given a much mature role under Brendon Rodgers and has taken the chance with both hands. Not just being a threat in the right wing position, he also heads the diamond formation that Rodgers has implemented this season in the Premier League. Sterling has been enjoyable to watch in that position and he offers Hodgson with a much needed pace upfront.
With Arsenal`s Theo Walcott out of the World Cup due to injury, the other wingers in the right flank in Hodgson`s list include Andros Townsend, Adam Johnson, Aaron Lennon, and Stewart Downing. Apart from Townsend who is likely to get selected, Sterling has done enough to justify his position in being on the plane to Brazil.
The 19-year old`s performances against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Tottenham and now Manchester City has seen him prevail in the two positions in a big way. Playing either out wide or in the centre, Sterling outshines the other contenders by a big margin. Hodgson is likely to select several Liverpool players and the understanding they have will provide Hodgson a much needed hope.