Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has slapped down television pundit Tony Gale by insisting that Raheem Sterling is ready to go to this summer’s World Cup with England.
Sterling took his goal total for the season to five by scoring twice in last Saturday’s 5-1 Premier League win over Arsenal at Anfield.
The 19-year-old has regained his best form in recent weeks, having overcome a dip in his performances over the second half of last season.
But former Fulham, West Ham and Blackburn defender Gale has suggested that the teenager’s game is based solely on pace, implying that he lacks the tactical nous to help England in Brazil.
Rodgers has responded by arguing that Sterling is “one of the most tactically-gifted players I’ve worked with.”
Ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League trip to Fulham on Wednesday, Rodgers said: “I’ve a great respect for Tony Gale. He was a wonderful player and he’s an excellent panellist when I listen to him.
“But I heard him talk about Raheem Sterling and saying it might be too early in his career for him to go to a World Cup, because he’s only got pace.
“Well, I tell you what. I see this boy every single day of my life. I see his technique. He’s one of the most tactically-gifted players I’ve worked with.
“His technique’s wonderful. There was one piece of great skill he produced against Arsenal at the weekend. So there’s more to him than pace.
“He’s got wonderful quality and still has so much improvement in him. And what he has got, for a young player, is a sense of responsibility on the pitch. I would have to disagree with Tony on that.”