LONDON (AFP) – England manager Roy Hodgson insists he won’t let rising star Raheem Sterling suffer from burnout on the road to Euro 2016.
With England on cruise control by half-time in Thursday’s 5-0 victory over San Marino, Hodgson was quick to substitute Sterling at the interval in a bid to keep one of his most prized assets fresh for Sunday’s slightly more testing qualifier against Estonia in Tallinn.
Hodgson knows Sterling’s emergence over the last 12 months has been a major bonus as he tries to revitalise an England team that had grown old and often lethargic in recent years.
But the 19-year-old Liverpool midfielder’s dazzling breakthrough campaign last season went into overtime with the World Cup and he has shown a few signs of suffering from both mental and physical fatigue in recent weeks.
Sterling has scored only once in his last 10 appearances for club and country and, while his performance against San Marino was energetic enough, Hodgson had seen enough to know the teenager would be better off taking a break.
Asked if there was a chance Sterling could crumble under the weight of expectations rapidly growing around him with England and back at Anfield, Hodgson said: “He is not alone in that. A lot of players have found that in the past.(Wayne) Rooney, for example. We are conscious of managing it.
“I don’t think it will need managing until he shows signs of suffering from it.
“When he shows signs of not being quite as sharp, not doing as well, trying too hard, that night be the moment we think we have to manage this and give him a break.
“But that is not the case at the moment and I don’t think Liverpool need to worry. His first half (against San Marino) was a lively as he could have been.”