A seventeen year old winger, with just a handful of first team appearances, sits diligently in the stands as England’s forwards misfire on the field. A statement that can be used equally accurately to depict either Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling watching Tuesday night’s game or Theo Walcott during the majority of England’s 2006 World Cup campaign.
The argument for the inclusion of Sterling in the training squad for last nights game is of course the same logic Sven utilised when selecting a seventeen year old Theo Walcott for the 2006 World Cup Squad, embodied by Sven informing the BBC “It will have served Walcott extremely well for the future.”
Roy Hodgson made it clear before last night’s game that the prospect of Sterling featuring would be remote and that he had not been selected to play but rather to give him taste of what life with England would be like, to make the youngster want to put in the work and be familiar with what is expected at International level. Essentially do for Raheem Sterling what Sven did for Theo Walcott but can anybody really argue that a selection from Sven has been beneficial to the career of Theo Walcott? I for one can’t.
Sterling’s club manager Brendan Rodgers seems to be under no illusions of the damage of such exposure at such a premature age. In an interview with the Liverpool Echo Rodgers stated.
“I think with young players you have to be careful.They can be elevated above their station too quickly. That is a part of it in this country. They have one good game and they get elevated into superstar status.”
“You then see them at 23 and 24 and you wonder why they are not superstars any more.”
It would perhaps be harsh to use Walcott as the embodiment of the perils of the too much too young culture of English football, but as he drifts in and out of the Arsenal team he certainly hasn’t progressed to become the superstar his seventeen year old talent threatened to.
Admittedly Sterling’s selection for a World Cup qualifying match squad does not compare to the attention Walcott was forced to endure after being included in a squad for a tournament where the eyes of the world looked on expectantly, but it is certainly unnecessary exposure. Particularly when the likes of Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer were snubbed for selection after decent enough performances last season.