If Raheem Sterling starts against Italy, where should he play?

Raheem Sterling

The youngster has shown an element of versatility for his club.

Ever since his sending off in the 2-2 draw with Ecuador in Miami last Wednesday, there has been a lot of talk over what Raheem Sterling can bring to the England side.

It was suggested that it could have been an opportunity lost for the 19-year-old as he missed the 0-0 draw with Honduras, the final warm-up match before England’s World Cup opener with Italy on Saturday in Menaus.

But since his sending off there has been a lot of positive rhetoric surrounding the Liverpool youngster. Steven Gerrard has said he has been the best player in training, Jordan Henderson hinted that he could be a secret weapon at these finals given that he didn’t feature much in the warm-up games, whilst Adam Lallana has hailed him as a great athlete and said ‘the more we see of him out there, the better it is for our country’.

There are several calls from within the camp for Sterling to start. And why not? His form in the second half of the season was terrific as he terrorised most defences.

He scored a total of nine goals and became one of the key players as Liverpool mounted an improbable title challenge, notably giving the defences of Arsenal and Manchester City a torrid time.

But part of that was down to the youngster’s versatility as he operated both in a central and wide positions.

So if he were to start against Italy, where would he play?

The obvious two positions that would be looked at will be out wide, with Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana seemingly in pole position to occupy the wider roles. If Hodgson were to opt for pace from both sides then it is likely that Lallana would be the man to drop out.

But there have been question marks over the role of Wayne Rooney in recent weeks with some questioning whether he is effective for England in the role just behind the main striker, and Sterling has demonstrated for Liverpool that he can perform in such a position, not to mention the understanding he will have developed with Daniel Sturridge.

Also, if it was a case of sacrificing Rooney, the combination of Sterling, Welbeck and Lallana would provide plenty of movement that could allow Sturridge to flourish up front and the opportunity to create several chances.

But it would be viewed as a gamble if Roy Hodgson took such an approach, and it doesn’t seem to be part of his managerial make-up. The first game of an international tournament is often talked about as being a game where you need to take something and get yourself in a solid position to progress from.

Therefore it is unlikely that such a trio would start the game. But it would be interesting to see what effect it could have.

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