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13th Jul 2018

Kevin de Bruyne: I hope Sterling gets the love he deserves

Sterling has been heavily criticised throughout the World Cup

Reuben Pinder

The Man City teammates will come up against each other on Saturday afternoon

It’s been a tough World Cup for Raheem Sterling. Moved inside to a central position, his role has involved a lot of dropping into pockets of space and linking up with onrushing midfielders. He has played selflessly and it has proved to be a thankless task, mainly due to the fact that he did not score a goal.

He’s used to criticism, having been scrutinised for his every move for years by the right-wing press, but it is still way over the top, according to his Manchester City teammate Kevin De Bruyne.

De Bruyne said: “Raheem has done really well in the games I saw.”

“He hasn’t scored goals, but not everything in football is about goals,” he added.

“Raheem is a wonderful player. He’s an easy-going guy who gives everything for everyone, even with the criticism. Personally, I don’t understand why you would criticise people from your own country when all they are trying to do is win it.”

There were calls for Sterling to dropped throughout the tournament, but Southgate persisted with starting him alongside Harry Kane up front, with the exception of the group match against Belgium which turned out to be a dead rubber.

England will play Belgium again on Saturday in the third place play-off, a game which could see De Bruyne come up against Sterling unless they are rested by their respective managers again.