Raheem Sterling finds himself on a mission to prove his worth to Gareth Southgate. Despite delivering noteworthy performances, the 28-year-old Chelsea winger was omitted from the latest England squad after standout displays in a 4-1 victory against Tottenham and a remarkable performance in the 4-4 draw against Manchester City.
As anticipation builds for England’s match against Malta, let’s delve into Sterling’s recent form. Initially, his season kicked off at a slower pace, but the influence of Mauricio Pochettino began to manifest. While a brace against Luton in August and a stellar showing in a 4-1 win at Burnley failed to spark a resurgence, pivotal clashes against London rivals Tottenham and reigning champions City seem to have rekindled Sterling’s brilliance.
In the game against Tottenham, Sterling posed a constant threat by exploiting spaces behind their high defensive line, contributing a crucial assist for Nicolas Jackson’s goal. His noteworthy performance continued against City, where he capitalized on Reece James’ low cross to score in the first half.
Despite being left out of the recent England squad announcement, Sterling’s dazzling display showcases his determination to aim for Euro 2024. Southgate, undoubtedly, must have taken notice of these performances amid England’s abundance of attacking options.
Critics may argue that Sterling’s four Premier League goals this season fall short of expectations, but his visible increase in freedom and confidence under Pochettino is evident. Leading the league in attempted take-ons (67), he consistently challenges defenders, as seen in matches against Spurs and City. Additionally, he ranks third in possessions won in the attacking third (14), demonstrating his commitment to pressing from the front and contributing as a team player.
Raz dipping into his bag of tricks. 🥵 pic.twitter.com/AyHb3eaVhC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 14, 2023
As Euro 2024 approaches, Sterling remains unfazed. Southgate, acknowledging his importance, stated that the door is open for Sterling and other players not in the current squad. Southgate faces the challenge of selecting from a squad that has performed exceptionally well, with Sterling poised to add to his 82 England caps if he maintains the level displayed in his recent standout performances. While competition for a spot is fierce, Sterling’s quality could present Southgate with a welcome selection dilemma.