Italians everywhere should be quaking in their exquisitely-tailored boots ahead of their nation’s first World Cup game against England, but only if Roy Hodgson sees sense and lets Raheem Sterling lose on the Azzurri.
Liverpool’s pint-sized dynamo was their man of the match against Manchester City and it was a goal-grabbing performance which fully merited that accolade.
But more than that, Sterling’s display when once again given the freedom to roam at the front of a midfield diamond for his club, should have alerted Hodgson that he could easily follow Brendan Rodgers’ lead at the World Cup.
There is nowhere for England to hide in Group D, where the Three Lions are deemed the 11/5 outsiders to get a tone-setting victory over 2006 world champions Italy.
If Hodgson is brave, however, and unleashes the lightning quick Sterling behind a front pairing of Wayne Rooney and his Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge then England’s chances of a famous victory will be greatly enhanced.
Sterling’s immense talent has been expertly harnessed by Rodgers – where he’s now scored eight times in all competitions this season – though it’s his manager’s masterstroke to employ the teenager in the hole during Liverpool’s imperious winning streak which has got the best out of him.
The former QPR trainee is so fearless in possession; he was making a string of supposedly world class internationals for City seem like cardboard cut-outs as he glided past them in all areas of the Anfield turf.
His turn of pace makes him such a frightening prospect for defences to deal with and in between the lines he is at his most devastating.
As he showed by getting beyond Luis Suarez for the goal, his pace can be used just as effectively to break the lines too, where Rooney could drop off to play the youngster in for England.
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