Wright: England must not rush Sterling

Former England international Ian Wright believes youngsters like Raheem Sterling should cut their teeth with England at under-21 level, rather than being fast-tracked into the senior setup.

Sterling's electric performances for Liverpool in the opening weeks of the new Premier League season evidently impressed England manager Roy Hodgson, with the former Anfield boss calling the 17-year-old winger into his squad for the recent World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, former Crystal Palace and Arsenal striker Wright, who won the first of his 33 caps at the age of 27, claimed Sterling's inclusion at such a tender age was further proof that players are being thrown into the international limelight too soon.

"You look at Theo [Walcott] a few years ago getting called into a squad when he hadn't even played for Arsenal properly, and Raheem Sterling being brought into the squad after just 205 minutes of Premier League football. That for me means there is something wrong," said Wright.

"Why have we totally bypassed the under-21 setup when these guys need to develop? It just puts pressure on them.

"What's the rush? We can bring him along slowly. We should be getting out of this [World Cup qualifying] group, so just bring him into the squad at the latter stages of this campaign and then see how he goes from there.

"Why bring him into a side that isn't really pulling up trees? You want to put young players into a team that's confident and doing well so they can hit the ground running."

Sterling was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with Ukraine at Wembley, but did help tee up Luis Suarez for Liverpool's equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Saturday.

Ian Wright will be supporting Stoptober by encouraging the nation's smokers to take part in the 28-day stop smoking challenge.

If you go 28 days without smoking you are five times more be able to stop for good. For more information visit smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober

By James Maw


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