Chelsea's Raheem Sterling Has Gone From Pivotal To Peripheral For England

Sterling has missed out on four England squads in a row
09:51, 10 Oct 2023

It felt like a classic case of showing the England manager what he’s missing. Raheem Sterling didn’t mention Gareth Southgate after his goal and two assists in Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Burnley. He didn’t have to. This mesmerising performance was enough of a broadside fired at the England manager in the wake of him omitting Sterling for the fourth England squad in a row.

There were no excuses this time. In the past, Southgate had left Sterling out due to injury or the potential for injury due to workload. But for both the September international break and for the upcoming games against Australia and Italy, Southgate’s reasons are purely football-based.


It seemed inconceivable that Sterling would end up on the outside looking in. That he would have to reiterate he was not retiring from England duty, as he was forced to clarify after September’s snub. Sterling was once one of England’s most vital players. Now he is a figure so peripheral his inclusion is not only not a guarantee, but at this point it would be a surprise.

Such a turn of events would have seemed implausible at Euro 2020, when Sterling netted three goals and was a vital cog in England reaching the final. The winger scored the winner against Croatia and Czech Republic and the opener in a 2-0 win over Germany. Not only was the then-Man City man netting, he was doing so at vital times.

The fact Sterling has only scored three international goals since that tournament is perhaps part of the reason for his omission. A single goal each in World Cup qualifying, a pre-tournament friendly and the tournament itself. Meanwhile, other players have come into Southgate’s squad to take the burden from former chief creative outlet Sterling.


The likes of Jarrod Bowen and Eddie Nketiah occupy the spaces in the squad that would usually be reserved for Sterling this time. Ollie Watkins has been preferred to the Chelsea man too. In recent squads, Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson has also been picked ahead of Sterling. Perhaps conscious of an overreliance on captain and talisman Harry Kane, numerous striking options are being trialled. 

Around these rotating names or a number of players who are nailed on. Despite his struggles at Manchester United, Marcus Rashford is in that category of player with club teammate Harry Maguire and Al-Ettifaq midfielder Jordan Henderson of players who Gareth picks regardless. Phil Foden is an ever-present and James Maddison’s Tottenham Hotspur form makes him mandatory. It took a while but Jack Grealish is deservedly part of the England furniture now.

Perhaps Bukayo Saka’s inclusion is the one that will rankle Sterling the most. The Arsenal man is exhausted, having left the field injured multiple times this season. This accumulation of knocks, plus the Gunners’ own reluctance to release the player to England duty, points to the fact he shouldn’t really have been picked. While worthy of his selection on merit, he is 22 years old and having far too much football piled upon his young body. Giving the Arsenal man a much-needed rest would have potentially opened up a place for Sterling.

Instead, Raheem must bide his time. More displays like his match-winning performance against Burnley will help. With so many new signings joining Chelsea this summer, he is perversely seen as a veteran at Stamford Bridge now. This despite the fact he only joined just over a year ago himself. But at 28 he can be a steadying influence at a club in flux. A lighthouse with significant Premier League experience to impart to a raft of young teammates bought from all over the world. If he adjusts to this elder statesmen role, and keeps delivering on the pitch, Southgate won’t be able to deny him forever.

latest football odds*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.