Paul Parker

England call far too soon for Sterling

Paul Parker

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I know that Roy Hodgson was forced into making some last-minute call-ups for his England squad to face Ukraine but I cannot agree with them.

I think selecting Raheem Sterling, a 17-year-old who has made just two starts in the league for Liverpool and has not even made an appearance for the Under-21s yet is foolhardy. It's madness.

Hodgson may think that it's a good way to get a highly promising young talent to experience the senior international set-up early in his career to stand him in good stead for the future, but I think there is just as much chance of it ruining his development.

He has played just a handful of games and looked lively without really delivering anything concrete  and already he is being judged. I am sure he has a great group of people around him at Liverpool, but he can hardly be blamed if all this sudden praise and attention goes to his head. A player's form is so erratic at that stage of their career as it is without this sort of disruption.

As Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers cannot be happy about a young player he clearly wants to invest time in having this distraction. I'm sure he would much rather have kept some continuity in Sterling's life by keeping him on the training ground during the international break rather than being plonked on the bench at Wembley at short notice.

It is true that the likes of Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott were fast-tracked into the England set-up, but at least they had made more than seven appearances. Both of them had shown enough to show they were special talents for their age. Sterling may well be too, but we simply cannot reach that conclusion after just a few hours' worth of playing time in his professional career.

We can only hope that he doesn't play against Ukraine, who are not exactly the calibre of opposition to throw such young players into the mix with anyway. Remember, England only beat them 1-0 at Euro 2012, and the co-hosts had a perfectly good goal disallowed in that game. Steven Gerrard said in his pre-match press conference that England afforded Ukraine too much respect in that game in Donetsk, but if anything it was the other way around. Ukraine outplayed England in that second half once the realisation hit that they really weren't up to much.

Like Sterling, Adam Lallana is only just getting used to playing in the Premier League and all of a sudden he is thrust into the England squad. Jake Livermore can also count himself a lucky boy to have already got a senior cap under his belt. It just goes to show how much England are lacking in strength and depth. I think it is ridiculous that we are even talking about these guys as England players at this stage.

People can try and paint it as bringing through a new generation of players into the England team, but the truth is that these players are simply not ready to be capped no matter how much potential they may have.

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