England squad: Is it the end of the road for Raheem Sterling? Paul Merson responds

With the Euros set to happen in the summer, these friendlies could prove to be the last chance for the national team managers to try out new systems and tactics.

File photo - Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal against Germany; Credit: Twitter@EURO2020
By Karthik Raman | Mar 21, 2024 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The domestic season has come to a halt, as the action shifts to international games. With the season firmly in the middle of the business end, a lot of managers would be sweating over their players’ participation in their respective national teams. With the Euros set to happen in the summer, these friendlies could prove to be the last chance for the national team managers to try out new systems and tactics.

Equally, the players will also be keen to grab this opportunity and get themselves a spot in their respective national teams’ Euro 2024 squad. However, for one experienced Englishman, his time at national level might be coming to an end. Raheem Sterling has been a key part of England’s setup over the years under Gareth Southgate. However, it could all change this time around. Following an average campaign with Chelsea, Sterling has not been selected for the international friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

Is it the end of the road for Raheem Sterling?

Former Arsenal attacker Paul Merson does not think Sterling will make it into England’s Euro squad. “Euro 2024 has gone for Raheem Sterling now. He’s having one of those times as a forward where everything goes wrong. The more you try, the worse it gets. It’s confidence. The pressure is on at Chelsea and the fans are on his back. He could have had a hat-trick the other day and we’d be here now saying how is he not in the squad? Instead, we’re thinking how’s he got that many caps? That’s how quickly football changes,” Sky Sports’ Paul Merson stated in his latest column.

He added: “When Sterling’s hot, he’s unplayable and he turns up in big tournaments. I don’t know if Southgate has made his mind up on him but I don’t see him at the Euros. It’s hard to make a case for him after the weekend. Jarrod Bowen can play in three or four positions across the frontline. I like him, he’s a manager’s dream and gives you everything but he might just miss out of the Euros squad. He’s unlucky but Southgate has so many options. He’d have been sweating if Sterling was ripping it up. There’s going to be some disappointed players this summer.”

For England, Harry Kane will be the undisputed No.9 at the Euros, provided he stays fit. However, the main debate is about who among Ivan Toney or Ollie Watkins will be his backup? “I would pick Ivan Toney just for his penalties instead of Ollie Watkins in England’s Euro 2024 squad. I don’t see the point in taking them both because Harry Kane will play every minute and if he gets injured then England won’t win the Euros anyway – and I’ve been bullish that they’ll win the tournament,” he explained.

Merson further added: “In a 23-player squad, there aren’t any spots to waste on centre-forward positions. I’d be flabbergasted if Gareth Southgate took the pair when Marcus Rashford can also play up front. Watkins has improved ten-fold with Aston Villa while Toney hasn’t set the world alight since his return with Brentford, but that’s understandable having not played for eight months. We’ll start to see the best of Toney during the run-in now that he has his striker partner Bryan Mbeumo is back. I like Watkins but you must take Toney for his penalties, especially with England’s history in shootouts.”

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