Sterling happy to play anywhere

18 June 2014 05:31

The tattoo on Raheem Sterling's arm may suggest he was destined to play in the number 10 role for England, but the Liverpool star insists he is happy to start Thursday's match against Uruguay in any position.

Sterling had no trouble transferring his domestic form on to the World Cup stage on Saturday when he starred in England's defeat to Italy in Manaus.

The teenager took just two minutes to charge at the Italy defence and let fly with a long-range shot that almost beat Salvatore Sirigu.

Sterling was a constant threat to the Italian defence playing in the hole just behind his Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge, but on Thursday he could have to make way for Wayne Rooney, who favours playing in that role.

"I would be happy to play anywhere the manager puts me," Sterling said.

"I am a team player. I will be working for the team regardless of which position I play in.

"I don't think the team was built around me necessarily.

"I just think the manager thought that was the right position for me at the time, with my pressing and my closing down."

Sterling never had any doubt he would be able to perform for England on the biggest stage - he has been dreaming about it ever since he started kicking a ball about with his friends in the shadow of Wembley Stadium.

Sterling grew up a short walk from the home of English football and he now has a tattoo of a boy wearing 10 playing under the famous arch.

Sterling said the tattoo symbolised the childhood dream he is now experiencing in real life.

"I grew up five minutes from the stadium," Sterling said.

"I used to ride my bike round this little car park that was by the stadium.

"I used to say to myself 'one day, I'd like to play there, hopefully I could do that' and I am really grateful to be given that opportunity.

"I know there have been some great players who have played for this country so for me to be selected in the national team was a great achievement for me."

Sterling was happy with his performance at the Arena Amazonia and now he wants to put on another dazzling show in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

"It was a big occasion for me - my first competitive start, so I tried to think of it as just another game and give it my best shot," the Londoner explained.

"It wasn't enough at the end of the day but the team done some really impressive stuff and we will go out on Thursday ready to go again."

Italy guarded their defence with the experienced duo Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo, who have over 200 caps between them.

Uruguay, on the other hand, have a defence that contains Diego Lugano, who has just been released by West Brom.

"We have been looking at them, trying to find ways in which we can really hurt them and I think the manager has been preparing really well for this game," Sterling said.

Uruguay's attackers are much more proficient than their defence, which was easily opened up by Costa Rica when they recorded their shock 3-1 win over the South Americans on Saturday afternoon.

Edinson Cavani is a regular for Paris St Germain while Luis Suarez scored 27 Premier League goals last season.

Suarez has declared himself fit following a knee injury, but Sterling was hoping his Liverpool team-mate would not feature.

"I'd rather not see him on the pitch, really," Sterling said with a smile.

"He is a great player, we all know that. But we can't be too focused on just him. We've got to realise they've got other world-class players as well, like Cavani.

"We've really got to think about their positives and negatives, not just Luis."

Source: PA