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Raheem Sterling Reportedly Set to Lead England Attack Against Italy in Number Ten Role

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Despite playing a limited number of minutes across England's three friendlies, Raheem Sterling is reportedly set to play an important role in attack with Roy Hodgson attempting to replicate Brendan Rodger's use of the 19-year-old as a number ten.

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Richard Heathcote

Those paying attention to England's World Cup preparations will have noticed a side mostly lacking any sort of urgency going forward, which, given the presence of Roy Hodgson and his insistence on featuring Wayne Rooney as an integral part of their attack, isn't particularly surprising. The Manchester United striker hasn't looked anywhere close to form or fitness in any the three friendlies thus far, and neither Hodgson nor Rooney look like they'll be making changes anytime soon.

Thankfully there's another option the manager is willing to consider, with Raheem Sterling reportedly set to push Wayne Rooney wide to resume duties in the number ten role he played to great effect for Liverpool. What started as a neat experiment against Southampton--one that paid immediate dividends--turned into a revelation for Sterling and Liverpool, and reports from those close to the England camp have Hodgson including the 19-year-old in their opener on Saturday.

From the five-time Allsvenskan title-winner:

"Any time you choose to select or not select a player, you can come up with reasons. If you're asking me will I hide behind that, to not consider him, then no I won't because he's as fit as a flea and I'm pretty certain that he hasn't forgotten how to play matches either. It was unfortunate that he couldn't play the game, but I can tell you that Raheem Sterling is very much in the group of players I'm considering. If I select him, it won't be in my opinion a risk that he hasn't played so many minutes. And if I don't select him, it certainly won't be because he has only played 39 minutes. It will be because I prefer someone else."

Hard to say what that means exactly, though we can at least rest assured that Roy Hodgson is not a man concerned with frivolous usage of double negatives to get his point across. What that point is remains to be seen, but I'm fairly confident that Raheem Sterling is a player that exists in a group of other players, and may or may not have had fleas.

It all seems fairly simple if Hodgson's preferences allow for England having a chance to do anything of note going forward. Place Sterling in a position in which he can have influence, minimize Rooney's by placing him wide or on the bench, and the small matter of denying the impulses of a career spent steadying ships with two banks of four from Halmstads to Malmo, to Orebo to Neuchatel Xamax, to the Swiss national team.