Recently, Sterling, Harry Kane and Ross Barkley have all played for Roy Hodgson’s senior side and questions have been raised over who will actually play for the U-21s in June. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, quoted by the Liverpool Echo, Southgate explained:
“An example would be Raheem Sterling who we now feel is an established international and other countries have similar situations like that.
“Germany have [Julian] Draxler for example who could play, but will now be with their seniors for certain. In France, [Paul] Pogba is eligible at that age group, but he’s moved through that, every country has similar scenarios with their very top players and we’ll make a judgement call on each of those.”
Although it is great to see the home nations' youth sides advance in these types of tournaments, it is also very important to look at the development of the players and look towards the future.
England have all but qualified for the 2016 European Championships and Sterling would hope to be part of that England squad. It makes more sense to rest the 20-year-old this summer.
“There is a huge demand on him. Part of my role is looking at the development of individuals and I’m not convinced another tournament in the summer would be right for him.”
It is always difficult to predict who will be part of international squads going forward, but you have to give players the best possible opportunity to be at their best.
Sterling was sent on holiday by Liverpool this season to try and avoid burn-out, and with his contract situation up in the air, it makes perfect sense to keep him free from tournament football this summer.
Southgate still has a talented squad, with Danny Ings, Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse all set to star for England this summer.