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Hodgson Praises Sterling Reaction

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Following Raheem Sterling's late red card against Ecuador, Roy Hodgson sought to praise the youngster's reaction and stressed it wouldn't impact his chances of starting against Italy.

Richard Heathcote

Despite the fact that nearly everyone seemed in full agreement his red card against Ecuador was worthy of a yellow card at absolute most—and perhaps not even of that much—the sending off of Raheem Sterling late on in the match saw multiple reports questioning how it would impact his chances of getting to face Italy.

Questioning if it meant Roy Hodgson would be worried about the player losing his head even while admitting he had shown great restraint by not reacting to Antonio Valencia attempting to choke him for a slightly high but far from malicious tackle. According to the manager, the answer is clear: Sterling's red card won't be an issue.

"His reaction has been excellent," said Hodgson, responding to questions about what the incident meant for Sterling's chances. "He was unstoppable at times in practice and training. He will not lose anything in terms of fitness and the way he plays, the dilemma I have is that I have more than 11 players I think are capable of taking a place in the side against Italy."

If Sterling is to miss out against Italy it will be because Hodgson favours the more experienced, conservative choice in Danny Welbeck, and not because of a terrible refereeing decision in a friendly. With Welbeck and fellow Manchester United attacker Wayne Rooney failing to impress, though, Sterling does at least have an outside chance.

"I don't need a performance from him tomorrow to tell me if he is good enough to play against Italy," added the England manager. "I am disappointed for him that he got sent off but it does not affect his chances of playing in the first team when the tournament starts."

He's only been on the pitch briefly for England in their warm-up friendlies, but has looked the best attacker at Hodgson's disposal in his substitute appearances against both Peru and Ecuador, and any chance England has for success in Brazil may hinge on whether Hodgson is bold enough to start him.