Raheem Sterling at heart of England World Cup bid despite goal drought

Gareth Southgate

REUTERSGareth Southgate admits the team as a group have been through so much already

After a quiet opening World Cup game against Tunisia, there was speculation Sterling would be dropped for the following group match against Panama. Beckham and Sir Geoff Hurst, though, defended Sterling's displays after the quarter-final win against Sweden. Neville said on ITV: "The actual treatment at half-time of across social media was absolutely disgusting, and isn't representative of the performance he put in. Got past my opponent a couple of times, got a couple of balls in, and you just get caned [by the media]" Sterling said (h/t ESPN FC).

Jones, who made just nine global appearances for Wales, believes Sterling relies to heavily on his speed and slammed his finishing so far this World Cup. "OK, we didn't have the cherry on the cake, the goal, where all of a sudden you're a hero, but it was a brilliant performance". Every player deserves to be applauded.

Gareth Southgate's men have reached the country's first semi-final at the tournament since 1990 as the team attempt to emulate the all-conquering side of 1966.

Meanwhile, ignoring all the abuses and taunts, Sterling has applauded the support of English fans in Russian Federation.

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"Until football is finished I will try and stay in as much as I can, watch TV and no one can say nothing".

Sterling endured vitriolic abuse after a series of tame performances at Euro 2016, and he was widely criticised again ahead of the World Cup for having a tattoo of a gun on his leg.

"They dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a hard opponent and we respect them", he said. And to outdo the mighty Croatians, the Three Lions will certainly need their number 10 to perform his best.

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