Estonia vs England: Roy Hodgson promises to manage Raheem Sterling's fitness as Wayne Rooney says quick turnaround is not an issue

Hodgson has a fully fit squad for the 2016 European Championship qualifier, which will see England play their second game in four days tomorrow night

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson said that he will manage the fitness of Raheem Sterling in discussion with Liverpool, ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia.

The England manager was deep in conversation with the 19-year-old winger when the team looked around the A. Le Coq stadium in Tallinn this evening. Hodgson acknowledged that Sterling had played a lot of games recently.

Hodgson said: “I know Liverpool are rightly concerned about that but it’s a question of man management. It's a little bit easier for clubs to manage their players because they see them every day, they can quite easily decide the level of intensity in the training. A club can even send the player away for a week's holiday if it wants.

“We when we get the players together, it's a lot more limited. We have a week, a maximum of 10 days with the and two games to play. As a result we have to try and make certain for England's benefit that we use the players in the best possible way.


“I think Brendan Rodgers will be very much aware of Raheem's situation. We are aware of his situation. We are all working together for the boy's best. We want him to play the games because he has burst onto the scene with a vengeance and he is playing very well and as a result you don't want to leave your best players out of the team.”

Hodgson said that he planned to tell his players the line-up in their team meeting tonight. Estonia were beaten away in Lithuania last week but September last year they came close to beating the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier, the latter needing a late penalty from Robin van Persie to bring the score back to 2-2.

Roy Hodgson inspects the A. Le Coq stadium in Tallinn

Hodgson said that there was a possibility that his team could win every one of their ten qualifying games. “It wouldn’t be easy but there is no reason it could be a goal. The goal of remaining unbeaten is somewhat more realistic. The bottom line is they are nice statistics. It is nice to be able to say we went through two qualifying campaigns unbeaten.

“All that really matters is getting to France 2016 and that we have a competitive team. It is not something I would set up as an important goal.”

The squad trained in Hertfordshire earlier in the day before flying out to Tallinn. Wayne Rooney said that the short three-day turnaround between games would not be a problem. “I feel fine. Over the last ten years I have been used to playing mid-week Champions League football and you get in a routine. It is now the same with internationals.

“It means less training and less time to work on the things the manager wants to do. As players you really want to play the game.”

Rooney said that he had no regrets about the opportunities that passed him by against San Marino to close in on Sir Bobby Charlton’s golascoring record. “There are records there in front of me, but you know at the end of the day if they come then great.

"It is not something I am looking at in particular. I am looking at qualifying for the European Championships with England. As I have said, if records come then that'd be great but the important thing is that we do well for the team."