England captain Steven Gerrard has praised Raheem Sterling for his reaction after being sent off against Ecuador last Wednesday.
Sterling was on the pitch for just 14 minutes after coming off the bench in England’s latest pre-FIFA World Cup friendly in Miami before being dismissed for a rash challenge on Antonio Valencia.
That red card means the 19-year-old cannot feature in England’s final tournament warm-up match against Honduras on Saturday.
However, Gerrard believes his Liverpool team-mate’s performances in training since the incident have proven his strength of character – and the fact he is ready to feature in England’s World Cup opener against Italy next week.
“He is very resilient,” said Gerrard.
“You judge a player on a setback and he was the best in training this morning (Friday) – he was very sharp and lively.
“Straight away after the incident when I spoke to him in the dressing room I said it is important how you react and that you are the best in training from now until Saturday to put yourself back in the frame for Italy.
“I think he has started to do that.”
England manager Roy Hodgson echoed his skipper’s sentiments, labelling Sterling “an exceptional talent” and refusing to blame the teenager for his dismissal.
“He was absolutely gutted to get sent off, as we were,” said the coach. “But he doesn’t seem to have taken it to heart.
“I don’t think it was a lack of discipline – it was his desire to help us out of a difficult situation by using his incredible pace to stop Valencia getting into a good position.
“We have talked it out and he has talked it out with Steve (Gerrard), so as far as I am concerned it has happened and the blow is that he can’t play (against Honduras) when I would have liked to have seen him play.
“The most important thing is that with his performances he is still very much making me aware that this is a player who can do an awful lot of damage to the opposition.”
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