Raheem Sterling returned to the starting line-up at Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has backed Raheem Sterling to play a key role for England at Euro 2020 despite firing another blank for Manchester City at the weekend.
The attacker saw his goal drought at club level extend to 11 games following Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park.
Sterling’s indifferent form resulted in him being left on the bench for City’s win away to Paris St Germain in midweek and he failed to make the most of his starting berth in London.
Hodgson handed the 26-year-old an international debut whilst manager of the Three Lions in 2012 and is positive the winger remain a key figure for England manager Gareth Southgate at the Euro’s next month.
“I am a great admirer of Raheem, I think he is a fine player,” Hodgson said. “It is a wonderful position to be in if you’re Pep Guardiola that you believe you have other players you prefer to use to Raheem.
“But I am pretty certain in terms of England, he will still be an important player and an important cog in the wheel because he has so much ability.
“The skillset he has and ability he has to beat people, get into goal-scoring positions and score and set up chances, they are hard skillsets to find.”
Sterling started City’s recent Carabao Cup triumph at Wembley but squandered three big opportunities against Palace, blazing over early on before he sliced wide under pressure in the area and later in the game he hit the inside of the post from a tight angle.
The final effort summed up the luck of the former Liverpool forward, who has netted twice for England this season and found the net on 13 occasions for treble-chasing City.
While he finished with more than double that tally in each of the last two campaigns, Guardiola has warned Sterling to be ready for his next chance.
“He deserved to play in Paris but it’s unfair if I leave Phil [Foden or Riyad [Mahrez] out now. It’s difficult for me. I’m justifying my decisions and I don’t want to,” the City manager admitted.
“Raheem played exceptional in the last two games and he has to be ready because we have a final and maybe he is going to play many minutes from the beginning.
“Maybe if we get to the final of the Champions League… everyone can play. That is the reason why over many years the commitment is there to be in a position to be where we were winning all these titles.”
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