Southgate dismisses Sterling concerns

03 September 2017 05:46:16 EST

England head coach Gareth Southgate says he does not expect Raheem Sterling's recent struggles to have a long-term affect on the winger.

The 22-year-old looked far from his best in Friday's 4-0 win over Malta, Southgate deciding to take him off at half-time, bringing on Marcus Rashford, who was far more effective.

Sterling's early exit compounded a tough week for the former Liverpool youngster, who had been sent-off at Bournemouth after scoring the winner for Manchester City, while he was linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium on transfer deadline day.

The City wideman looks unlikely to hang on to his place in the England starting line-up for Monday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovakia but Southgate seems to have no worries about the affect all his problems will have on his confidence.

Despite his young age, the Three Lions boss believes Sterling is professional enough to put his issues behind him and keep moving forward.

"He is a player we have a lot of time for - he's really ballsy," said Southgate.

"To go and beat people, and to beat people in tight spaces, some days that happens and some days it doesn't.

"In the first half, it was the latter for Raheem - but he will bounce back from that.

"He has bounced back from things throughout his career, so I've no doubt in my mind that he'll cope with that.

"He started the season with Manchester City well. He is of course at a club where they have got an incredible amount of attacking talent, but he is right in the mix with them."

England face second-placed Slovakia on Monday knowing a win will see them take a giant stride towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Southgate's men are 4/11 to win the match, while Slovakia are 10/1 to win at Wembley. The draw is 4/1.

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