Belfast Telegraph

How Raheem Sterling has had a 'fantastic' World Cup, argues Dier

By Rory Dollard

Eric Dier believes there should be no debate about England team-mate Raheem Sterling’s performances at the World Cup, praising the forward for a “fantastic tournament”.

Amid the joyous celebrations that have greeted England’s run to the semi-finals in Russia, Sterling seems to be acting as a lightning rod — the one player whose contribution splits opinion.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has placed a huge amount of trust in the 23-year-old, starting him in every game barring the defeat to Belgium when he rested several key men.

Sterling’s pace and willingness to run at defences has been a major part of England’s attacking threat, but his timid finishing has frustrated some.

Dier, though, insists questions over his value to the side are a red herring.

“Raheem’s attitude is fantastic, his work ethic is fantastic. He offers so much to the team,” the Tottenham midfielder said. “He has quality in possession, links the play, makes runs in behind and his work rate is incredible.

“It’s clear to see if you watch back our games the importance he has to the team. He’s had a fantastic tournament so far and hopefully that can continue.”

That Sterling is alone in attracting some criticism — albeit mixed with plenty of praise — represents considerable progress from two years ago.

Back then England had just been dumped out of Euro 2016 by Iceland and had seemingly lost any hint of goodwill.

Dier took that defeat as hard as anyone and admits to viewing the unexpected success of recent weeks as redemption.

“After the Iceland game, we knew things needed to change,” he said. “It was an extremely disappointing moment and we knew that we couldn’t let that happen again. We knew that we could only make amends for that, and that is what we have been trying to do.

“We have put everything in place, we have learnt from our mistakes, which is the most important thing, and we have made things right. We have seen the way the country has got behind us and the happiness we are giving out and it is fantastic to be a part of.

“We’re really happy with where we’re at but we believe we can continue this great journey.”

Belfast Telegraph


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