From struggling to consistently make Liverpool's bench four months ago to establishing himself as he club's top winger and putting in the best shift of England's 1-0 win over Denmark, it's fair to say Raheem Sterling's development has had a bit of a growth spurt. Long tabbed to become one of England's top attackers, a promising first season was followed up by a stumbling start to his second, but having quickly put any lingering concerns over off field issues behind him, the past few months have seen remarkable growth.
It's gotten to the point where it can be difficult to remember Sterling is just 19 years of age, and with the player well on the way to having the best season by a youngster in the Premier League, it seems increasingly certain he will be heading to Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Based on last night's performance against Denmark and with Theo Walcott out injured, there's a good chance he'll start. And teammate Jordan Henderson, another player who has worked his way into the England picture, has no doubt he's good enough to.
"Raheem has been fantastic for us at Liverpool and he was again tonight," said Henderson following England's victory at Wembley last night. "He was really positive and wanted to get on the ball all the time and get at players. Nothing fazes Raheem. He was outstanding and hopefully he can continue playing like that between now and the end of the season. We are all working really well together and linking up brilliantly [with Liverpool]. We have to try to bring that into the England set-up as much as we can."
Though his own play was less flashy than Sterling's, Henderson also impressed last night. England isn't as thin for options in the middle as they are on the wings, making it a far more competitive part of the lineup Henderson is trying to crack, but on current form there is little doubt he deserves to at least make the bench at the World Cup. Workrate, positional and tactical flexibility, and the ability to create chances for his more attacking minded teammates should get him selected, though Henderson isn't taking anything for granted.
"I'm playing with a lot of confidence and I'm loving playing football at the minute," he said. "Things have been going well for Liverpool and to get another call up for England gave me a boost as well. Hopefully I can keep going for the rest of the season. It would mean everything to me to go to the World Cup and represent my country, [but] first and foremost, I need to do a job for Liverpool. I'll give my all between now and the end of the season. If I do that then I will have a good chance."