Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has dismissed claims that he told England manager Roy Hodgson to sit young Reds midfielder Raheem Sterling during the Euro 2016 qualifier vs. Estonia.
Sterling told Hodgson that he wasn’t feeling up to full fitness, and therefore, took the pitch as a substitute. Reports had surfaced that Rodgers didn’t desire Sterling to perform for most of the international match, however.
The Northern Irishman, usually calm and collected during his interviews, addressed media in a serious tone, insisting that in no way, shape or form did he influence the 19-year-old’s standing with his country.
“At no point did Raheem Sterling say he didn’t want to play for England,” he said, per the Independent. “The boy is being hung out to dry and I dare say the criticism will continue for a few more weeks to come because of this.”
Based on similar situations in the past, it appears Rodgers strongly believes that it was ultimately Hodgson’s decision to sit the winger.
“Let me tell you, there have been at least five occasions in the past when Raheem has said he felt tired before games but he’s never refused to play,” said Rodgers. “We have taken on board what he has said and taken a decision accordingly. I rested him against Aston Villa and we lost the game. But it was our decision to do so – and our decision alone. Last season he said he felt tired before the Manchester City game. We won 3-2 and he put in a man-of-the-match performance.”
Sterling has scored three goals and added two assists for Liverpool in six Premier League starts this year. He has yet to score for England.