The tense relationship between Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers looks set to continue in the wake of the controversy over Raheem Sterling’s fitness with the England manager saying the two-day post-match recovery programme operated at Liverpool will not be standard with the national team.
Hodgson was speaking after Sunday’s 1-0 win in Estonia for which he said Sterling was left out of the starting line-up having admitted he was tired. At no point did Hodgson say in Tallinn on Sunday, either before or after the game, that the Liverpool teenager had asked to be left out and it is understood to be the case that the player never requested he be dropped.
In the wake of the injury to Sterling’s Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge, which was sustained in a training session 36 hours after England’s friendly against Norway last month, Hodgson said that he was still not convinced of the “two-day recovery” principle – no heavy training for two days after a match – which is key to Rodgers’ Liverpool regime.
Asked of the merits of the programme, Hodgson said: “Raheem might say it is something that is becoming ingrained in him and that he felt the need to talk about being tired more than he would normally do. But we have never had any problems with that. I don’t think there is a lot of medical evidence to support the two-day recovery so if you want to, you might want to research that one.
Estonia 0 England 1 player ratings
Estonia 0 England 1 player ratings
1/12 Joe Hart
Another quiet night for England’s No 1. A spectator for the most part in Tallinn, though his distribution was wayward at times when required. 6/10
2/12 Calum Chambers
Often sloppy on the ball but matches like this will stand him in good stead for the future, especially when being played out of position. 5
3/12 Gary Cahill
Fast becoming Mr Dependable in England’s backline. Always in the best position, and gave Estonia’s forwards no chance during rare attacks. 8
4/12 Phil Jagielka
A slightly subdued performance but made up for that with a couple of well-timed challenges. Not over-worked but solid alongside Cahill. 5
5/12 Leighton Baines
Plenty of time and space to attack, with his passing as slick as his hairstyle. Rooney should have put away left-back’s cross in the first half. 7
6/12 Jack Wilshere
Despite his starting position as the deep-lying midfielder, he constantly looked to set England on the attack. A couple of delightful through-balls. 9
7/12 Jordan Henderson
Steady from the Liverpool midfielder, with some great movement but the 24-year-old lacked incision with his final ball. Can do better. 6
8/12 Fabian Delph
Often found himself reverting to left-back as cover for the adventurous Baines who was always looking to get forward. Replaced after 61 minutes. 5
9/12 Adam Lallana
The attacking tip of Hodgson’s diamond. Linked up well with Rooney, Henderson and Wilshere and made promising runs into dangerous areas. 6
10/12 Wayne Rooney
His celebration was one of pure relief after his missed chances began stacking up. Stepped up with fine free-kick when it mattered. 7
11/12 Danny Welbeck
Sluggish. The Arsenal man just could not get going at all in Tallinn. Heavy in the touch. Had to drop back to get any involvement in the game. 4
12/12 Best of the bench: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
His pace posed some problems as the clock wound down, and he came close to setting up Rooney for a late second which the captain couldn’t finish. 6
“Certainly, the Germans, who you admire so much, don’t do it. That is for certain. But obviously we always did and we did it from the start. We had people like John Terry, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard who I felt would be better off having an extra day or whatever.
“I would expect players not to take it for granted that there will be two-day recoveries but on the other hand it could easily be like this [international break] when we did virtually nothing in terms of what I consider to be training the day after the [San Marino] game. “We did 40 minutes including warm-up [two days after] and that was at a fairly low-level intensity. But that was my decision.”
The suggestion that Sterling was too “tired” to play provoked a strong reaction in some quarters, with Alan Shearer critical of the Liverpool teenager. Sterling responded to critical messages on Twitter with a plaintive “excuse me for being human”.
The winger is back at training today with his club, where his fitness will be assessed. Rodgers is not due to speak to the press until Friday. His relationship with Hodgson did become strained over the course of the Sturridge episode, culminating in Rodgers declaring that the striker might be available for the West Bromwich Albion game on 4 October but not subsequently for England.
Hodgson is by no means alone in believing that a two-day recovery is unnecessary for many players and that, in the short time available in an international week, it wastes precious preparation time out on the training pitch.
On Sterling’s situation he said: “I think I should speak to Brendan, but it is very simple and I am sure he understands. He [Sterling] looked a bit tired when he came up and I will just tell [Rodgers] that; that [Sterling] was feeling a bit tired and I made the decision from that to play [Adam] Lallana.”