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Former Liverpool star, John Barnes has given his backing to Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave out Raheem Sterling from his recent England squads.
Sterling has not been involved in an England game since the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, having been snubbed by Southgate since then.
The 28-year-old has however been in scintillating form for Chelsea since the start of 2023-24 season, scoring five goals and picking up another two assists in that time.
Sterling’s most recent goal came in the Blues’ 4-4 draw against Manchester City on Sunday, when he put Chelsea ahead in the first half after Thiago Silva’s thumping header cancelled out Erling Haaland’s penalty kick.
The winger was impressive throughout the game, as has been the case for most of the season, but Southgate has not felt the same way, and decided against inviting the former Man City man to his England squad for their upcoming internationals against Malta and North Macedonia.
Southgate has been criticised for the decision, but while speaking to bonuscodebets.co.uk, Barnes defended the England manager, while stating that it wasn’t a big deal for Sterling to be snubbed.
He said: “Raheem has played well in the last two or three games for Chelsea and Chelsea haven’t been doing too well up until recently.
“People are looking at the last two or three matches and saying he should be called up but if you look at the amount of talent available to Gareth Southgate it’s a tough situation to be in.
“I’ll always have Raheem in the England squad but I don’t think it’s an issue of Raheem not being in the squad. Raheem may warrant being in the squad based on recent form but the squad was picked before the City game so he will be back in the squad at some point.”
Barnes added: “Fans will always have an opinion on who should and shouldn’t be in the squad. I respect and trust what Gareth says and does. He knows how he wants his team to play.
“He may feel that what Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford have to offer may differ to what Raheem offers. Jack hasn’t been playing all the time, which is somewhat similar to Harry Maguire at [Manchester] United.
“Jack may be in the squad but may not be in the England starting 11 so therefore he’s an option off the bench. Whilst if you have Raheem in the squad you can’t have him on the bench. You’d want him on the team.”