English Premiership

Rodgers 'wrong' over Sterling

2014-11-07 08:26
Roy Hodgson (Gallo Images)

London - England manager Roy Hodgson stoked his feud with Brendan Rodgers on Thursday by saying the Liverpool manager's claims about his handling of the club's teenage forward Raheem Sterling were "wrong".

Sterling started on the bench in England's 1-0 win away to Estonia in 2016 European Championship qualifying last month and Hodgson told BBC radio at the time that it was because the Liverpool winger had told him: "I'm feeling tired, I'd rather sit this one out."

According to Rodgers, Sterling did not say that he was too tired to play, but Hodgson now denies ever claiming that the 19-year-old had said that.

"In actual fact, Brendan is wrong to do that. Because unfortunately I have 30 witnesses to that extent and Brendan wasn't there," Hodgson told a group of reporters at Wembley Stadium.

"If that's all it is, he obviously got the wrong end of the stick and I would be very happy to put him right on it if he needs to be. He wasn't there."

Hodgson added: "I never ever said to anyone that Raheem Sterling said he was too tired to play. In fact he did play, and he got us the free-kick which won us the game.

"I said that he said before training that he felt too tired to train that day and wanted to miss that training session, and as a result I left him out of the team."

Rodgers and Hodgson had previously clashed after Sterling's Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge sustained a thigh injury on England duty in early September. He has yet to return to action.

The England manager insisted that his relationship with Rodgers was "good", but he admitted to feeling "very, very sad" that Sterling had found himself at the centre of a media storm.

Hodgson on Thursday named Sterling in his squad for England's Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Slovenia on November 15 and the friendly against Scotland in Glasgow three days later.

Captain Wayne Rooney stands to win his 100th cap against Slovenia and when asked if Sterling could emulate the Manchester United striker, Hodgson replied: "I think he could, yeah.

"Raheem Sterling is excellent. I think he's an outstanding player. I saw Steven (Gerrard) quoted as saying that he thinks he's going to be one of the top-class England players of the future.

"So of course I felt sorry for him that this happened. It's happened, it's gone, and we move on. We hope he helps us win the next two games."

Sterling was joined in the squad by uncapped West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino, while Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Everton's Ross Barkley were recalled after periods on the sidelines.

Barkley has not played for his country since the World Cup, having only recently recovered from a knee injury, but Hodgson believes the 20-year-old can have an impact similar to former England star Paul Gascoigne.

"In terms of being able to run with the ball with pace and power, you could compare him to Paul Gascoigne," said Hodgson, echoing a comparison previously made by Barkley's club manager, Roberto Martinez.

"That's dangerous, because now you will make all sorts of comparisons, but Paul Gascoigne was a powerful player, a powerful runner with the ball.

"Once he set off and went by people, they didn't catch him. Ross Barkley is the same."

Walcott, 25, has played only 10 minutes for Arsenal since returning from a 10-month lay-off with a knee injury and Hodgson said he would be eased back into the international fold carefully.

"It is a bit early for him to come back, I think we all understand that," Hodgson said.

"It is a fairly large squad anyway and we will have to work hard to make certain that any particular programmes he has in his routine with Arsenal are replicated when he is with us."


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