Rooney confident over Sterling

Published: Saturday 13th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Wayne Rooney has no doubt that Raheem Sterling will put recent criticism behind him by shining as England end their season in Slovenia.

Even for a player so used to being in the spotlight, recent weeks must have been taxing for the 20-year-old winger.

Sterling’s prolonged contract dispute with Liverpool took a nasty turn last month when his representative allegedly claimed he would not even accept a deal worth £900,000 a week.

Aidy Ward later denied making those comments but no resolution is in sight, with Reds fans jeering him towards the end of the season – a reception home fans replicated throughout last weekend’s friendly in the Republic of Ireland.

Roy Hodgson afterwards expressed concern that Sterling is not currently tough enough to deal with such abuse, but Rooney has backed him to bounce back in Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia.

“I think as any footballer at some stage in your career they’ll experience that,” the Three Lions captain said in Ljubljana.

“Raheem is a level-headed lad, a top quality player and I am sure he will give a good performance tomorrow.”

Asked if he had this week spoken to Sterling in his role as captain, Rooney said: “I think that’s obviously not something I don’t really want to speak about publicly.

“I think Raheem is a top-quality player and of course there is a lot of speculation around his future at the minute.

“But I am sure that is something himself and his management will have to deal with, certainly after the game tomorrow night. Hopefully whatever he chooses to do gets sorted out soon.”

For now, the focus for Sterling and his team-mates is on making amends for last weekend’s uninspiring 0-0 draw in Dublin.

Paul Scholes labelled it a “waste of an afternoon” but Rooney disagrees with his former team-mate, saying the benefit will be borne out at the Stadion Stozice.

“I think we, as a team, were disappointed with the performance,” he said on BBC 5 Live.

“We know we can play a lot better than that. I think in some ways it sort of felt like an end-of-season friendly for both teams, really.

“You can understand where the criticism is coming from, but you know the main aim was being ready for this game tomorrow night and we certainly will be.”

The Aviva Stadium draw maintained Roy Hodgson’s unbeaten run, meaning they can become the first England side in 24 years to go whole campaign unbeaten on Sunday.

“I think we’ve made huge strides after the World Cup,” Rooney said, referring to last summer’s disastrous showing.

“Obviously losing Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard as well, for the lads to come into the squad and for us to go through the season up to now unbeaten – seven victories, two draws – it’s still a great achievement from the players.

“But we want to make sure we cement that tomorrow night with a good performance, hopefully get the three points and then we can turn around and say we had a fantastic year, fantastic season with England and will give us a good platform to kick on for the following season.”

Published: Saturday 13th June 2015 by The News Editor

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