England have underperformed so far at Euro 2016, winning just one of their first three games – all against modest opposition.
Many players failed to display their best form for the Three Lions during the group phase, but Raheem Sterling has found himself talking an disproportionate amount of the abuse.
Fellow England attacker and former Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge has described the treatment of Sterling as “harsh”.
Sturridge on Sterling
Quotes transcribed by FourFourTwo from BBC Radio credit Sturridge as saying: “I feel the criticism he has received has been harsh because he is 21. He has performed at the highest level for the last few years and has played for big clubs.
“In the games he has played for England, he has not performed as badly as people have made out – he has done quite well.
“We have to groom him, nurture him and help him become one of the best players in the world. I believe he can, because he has all the tools for it. You are still finding yourself and you are not a grown man at 21.
“Just let him continue and he will come good. That is fact because he does have the ability. It is important for people to understand he will come good and he will show everyone what he is about. I am sure of that and I can’t wait to see it happen.”
Sturridge, who scored a last-minute winner in England’s sole group victory over Wales, added: “It is just a matter of time before you see him take his game to the next level and I am sure that will be very soon.
“He doesn’t worry too much about what people say. He has to worry about his game and that is it. That is all he ever does. He works so hard on the training field and is one of the most talented players in the world.
“We look at players playing for so many different countries but you can’t name many 21-year-olds who have played as many first-team games at the highest level as Raheem has.”
Sterling and Sturridge were phenomenal together during Liverpool’s title-challenge in the 2013-14 season, scoring 30 Premier League goals between them.
However, they have not yet shared a minute of Euro 2016 game time.
Sterling left Liverpool in the summer of 2014 and his exit damaged his reputation among Reds supporters significantly.
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