Sterling strong enough to deal with abuse - Fernandinho

As Raheem Sterling prepares to make his competitive debut for Manchester City, team-mate Fernandinho backed him to deal with fans.

Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho has backed high-profile signing Raheem Sterling to cope with the booing expected from rival fans.

The £44million signing from Liverpool was subjected to booing during the pre-season, including in International Champions Cup matches against Roma and Real Madrid.

Fernandinho believes the 20-year-old England international is strong enough to deal with whatever is thrown at him as City prepare to open their Premier League season at West Brom on Monday.

"I think he is a strong character with the right personality," the Brazilian said.

"I remember seeing him in an interview talking about his determination to win trophies and I'm sure he will be able to manage the situation."

City finished eight points adrift of Chelsea in the Premier League title race last season, despite scoring more goals (83) than any other team.

Fernandinho said defensive improvement was the key to success in 2015-16.

"Personally, I believe the team can be very successful scoring goals," he said.

"The biggest thing to improve is defensively. The attacking part of the team is very strong, and it's about improving consistency in defence.

"Of course that includes myself, as part of my role. I believe we have learned the lesson and I'm confident the new season will be much better."