Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has told Raheem Sterling to demonstrate his quality to England and Gareth Southgate.
Sterling was substituted at half-time in England’s 4-0 win at Malta last month, but has scored five times in all competitions this season as City have surged to the top of the Premier League.
The 22-year-old former Liverpool forward lost his place in England’s starting line-up against Slovakia, but is in contention for Thursday’s World Cup qualifier with Slovenia and the final game with Lithuania.
Guardiola said: “Raheem is a young guy. He has to know that job is not easy. He cannot expect it’s always going to go well. I want to see him when it’s going bad with the national team how he will react. He mustn’t complain. He’ll say: ‘Gareth Southgate, Pep, I’m here, I am going to show you how good I am’.
“That is the only way to become a better player. He has a lot of space to improve: in the last pass, to be more clear in the last action. When he’s able to get that he will become a top, top, top player.”
Guardiola praised Sterling’s positional discipline in a strong team display at Chelsea, where Kevin De Bruyne scored the winner in a 1-0 victory. Chelsea were stifled by City’s high line and the intensity of their press, with Sterling deployed down the right wing.
“We know that he’s a guy who likes to go in the middle and attack central defenders,” Guardiola added. “The way we wanted to play it (at Chelsea) was so necessary to be wide.”
Fabian Delph was on City’s other flank, again deputising for long-term knee injury victim Benjamin Mendy at left wing-back. Delph has had few opportunities since joining City from Villa in July 2015, but he has been recalled by England boss Southgate.
Guardiola said: “He’s a midfield player, when he receives the ball he doesn’t lose one ball. He tried always to play, give an extra pass. I’m so happy (for him) to go to the national team for England, because I think England can use him a lot, maybe more than I used him last season.”
Delph has been the consummate team man during his period on the periphery, Guardiola said.
The City boss added: “It’s not easy when for a long period you don’t play. And when the manager gives you an opportunity you play a position you have never played before.
“Some guys just want to play in one position. He’s a guy who will try always to help. Last season when he didn’t play always it was his voice in our locker room. I’m so satisfied, so happy for him.”
Source: By PA Sport Staff