Gareth Southgate’s recent England squad includes the names of some of Chelsea’s up-and-coming stars. But it was the notable omission of a more experienced Chelsea international that has proved to be the bigger talking point.
Raheem Sterling has 82 caps for England. After a poor 2022/23 season, Sterling has started the new season brightly with two goals after four games for the Blues. And he is also a man Southgate has remained loyal to in the past, so why not now?
🏴❌ Gareth Southgate on Raheem Sterling’s England exclusion:— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) August 31, 2023
🎙️ “It’s a difficult call. Raheem isn’t particularly happy about it and I understand that. I’m convinced he’s going to have an excellent season at Chelsea.” pic.twitter.com/TONSqsObf5
Could it be Chelsea’s mixed start to the new season?
It was always going to take time for new Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino to turn around the club’s fortunes after last season, and so it has proved.
Chelsea were way down in the betting to win the title at the start of the season. The bookmakers had Chelsea at odds of 12/1 to win the league before a ball was kicked. Now they are down at 30/1 in the latest English Premier League title odds. They are also out to 15/8 in the betting to finish in the top four. That makes them the sixth favourites.
So could it be this indifferent start that has been the reason why Sterling has been left out? Maybe. But a look around the rest of the squad shows various Blues players included, so the form of the team can’t be the reason.
Balance of the squad?
The England squad is generally made up of a balance of youth and experience. Gareth Southgate has always tried to mix the future with the here and now, and this squad is no different.
There seem to be a lot of youngsters in the striking department, with just Harry Kane and Callum Wilson providing the wise old heads for the youngsters to learn from. Kane was always going to get selected for this squad ahead of Sterling, and will no doubt continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
But what about Newcastle’s Callum Wilson? Is he regarded as an almost like-for-like replacement for Kane, and is he simply there in case the new Bayern Munich signing picks up an injury?
The Newcastle striker isn’t doing any better than Sterling this season. They both have two goals from four matches. But the Chelsea man has played all but ten minutes of his club’s opening four matches, while Wilson has had to come off the bench for Newcastle in all their matches so far this season.
Rio Ferdinand has been quick to point out the inconsistencies between the situation of Raheem Sterling, and those of Kalvin Phillips and Harry Maguire.
Phillips and Maguire have always retained the faith of England manager Southgate. As did Sterling, at times when his form was suffering.
Of the three players at this moment in time, Sterling is the only one playing regular football. And he has also been in decent form lately, certainly better than his form of last season. Again, this makes no sense!
“The best feeling” 🤩— Chelsea FC News (@Chelsea_FL) August 26, 2023
Pochettino heaps praise on Raheem Sterling after his two goals against Luton in the Blues’ 3-0 victory 🙌 pic.twitter.com/zgo1NZneZv
A win for Chelsea
Whatever the reason for Raheem Sterling’s England omission, it looks good news for Chelsea. The striker isn’t at risk of picking up an injury on international duty, and he can also rest up and come back fresher when the season resumes.
And hopefully Sterling will come back more determined to prove Southgate wrong and fire Chelsea to more success. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get a late call-up!