Daniel Sturridge has backed England teammate Raheem Sterling to defy his critics and described him as “one of the most talented players in the world.”
Sterling, 21, has failed to show his best form for England or Manchester City this season, even leading to reports that Pep Guardiola contacted him to inform him he remains part of his plans at the Etihad in an attempt to boost his confidence.
But Sturridge, who played alongside Sterling at Liverpool, insists he has achieved a lot for a player of his age and has the talent to come through this difficult period.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is just a matter of time before you see him take his game to the next level and I am sure that will be very soon.
Raheem is one of the strongest. He has got thick skin. He doesn’t worry too much about what people say. He has to worry about his game and that is it. That is all he ever does.
“He works so hard on the training field and is one of the most talented players in the world.
“We look at players playing for so many different countries but you can’t name many 21-year-olds who have played as many first-team games at the highest level as Raheem has.
“I feel the criticism he has received has been harsh because he is 21. He has performed at the highest level for the last few years and has played for big clubs.
“In the games he has played for England, he has not performed as badly as people have made out — he has done quite well.
“We have to groom him, nurture him and help him become one of the best players in the world. I believe he can, because he has all the tools for it. You are still finding yourself and you are not a grown man at 21.
“Just let him continue and he will come good. That is fact because he does have the ability. It is important for people to understand he will come good and he will show everyone what he is about. I am sure of that and I can’t wait to see it happen.”
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