Paul Ince: Sterling needs to start finishing chances or risk being dropped

The former England captain says Raheem Sterling is one of England’s best players, but he needs to be more clinical to keep his place in the team...

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There’s been a lot of talk about Raheem Sterling, and I’ve said before that he won’t keep getting this many chances against top sides.

He really needs to start finding the net and prevent England being too over reliant on Kane. He’s got to score some of these chances he’s given – you can afford to miss them against Panama because you know you’ll get another at some point – that won’t be the story against Belgium.

He needs to be clinical, or people will carry on criticising him unfortunately. What I would say though, is he’s one of the most dangerous players in the squad when you look at his overall game. He offers us something which not many other players can. I want him to start every game, but he needs to keep practicing his finishing as we’ll need him to be clinical if we want to keep progressing in Russia.

You know yourself as a player, just like I did when I played, that if you don’t step up you will be replaced. You need to up your game if you want to start in every match, which every player does at a World Cup.

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Southgate should rest Harry Kane

The biggest decision Gareth Southgate will face ahead of the game is whether or not to rest Harry Kane. If he was to get injured at this stage, it could end up costing England their whole tournament. If it was me, I’d chose to rest him. Simply because I don’t think someone like Marcus Rashford or Jamie Vardy comes anywhere near as a replacement for him, I don’t think they could do the job he does at all.

But the fact is, Harry will want to play every game. He won’t see it as taking a risk, because he probably won’t be feeling tired. When you’re winning games and playing the way England are, you just want to keep going, I doubt he will even be feeling any fatigue.

Plus, he will want to get the golden boot if he can.

I know from my own experience, when the adrenaline is rushing, the last thing he will want is to not start the game. But I’d say Southgate will be keen to make sure there’s no injuries to his star man at this early stage.

It’s his call, and I’d say it’s one of his biggest yet. Does he say, no, this is the team I’m going with this tournament and take the risk, or does he try and look after Kane. Either way, I’d say he can’t win. He’ll face criticism for whatever he picks.

I still wouldn’t play him though. Topping the group is not as important as making sure Kane is ready for the last sixteen.

Scholes is wrong about Mourinho and Lingard

I don’t agree with what Paul Scholes has said about Jesse Lingard and Jose Mourinho. Just a few months ago and Lingard wouldn’t have even been considered for the World Cup.

People forget that it was Mourinho that gave Lingard the opportunity to step up, and you can see how well he’s done because he’s had his best season ever under him this year. The reason Lingard is playing so well in Russia is totally down to Jose. He was playing him regularly for United, and stepped up and showed what he’s made of, but Mourinho took that risk, not Southgate.

If Rashford had played as well for United as Lingard did this season maybe he would be getting more England starts than him, but he didn’t. Mourinho has seen Lingard as an impact player and you can see Southgate using those same tactics with him.

I’m not sure where Scholesy was coming from with this one, everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but from where I’m sitting it’s Mourinho that’s given Lingard the opportunity he has got and he deserves some credit for it. That’s why his form at the World Cup is so impressive and he owes the Man United gaffer for that.

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