Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

Comment: We go crazy over young talent in this country... but Welbeck should start over flavour of month Sterling

Comment: We go crazy over young talent in this country... but Welbeck should start over flavour of month Sterling

| By Scott Hunt - Comment

No nation goes over the top about young talent like England.

If anyone under the age of 21 happens to score a couple of goals and is capable of pulling off a few step overs, that suddenly makes them a world beater.

It happens at every major tournament and this time the man of the moment is Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling.

The winger is a terrific player and has the potential to be really special, but right now is too inconsistent and raw to be trusted as a starter in the World Cup.

England boss Roy Hodgson should resist the calls for Sterling to start and should instead trust the man who has played the majority of the qualifiers – Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck.

ITV ran a Twitter poll during their coverage of Brazil v Croatia asking whether Welbeck or Sterling should start – and Sterling won by a landslide majority.

Despite popular opinion, the best man for the job against Italy is Welbeck who provides both the attacking threat needed as well as the ability to offer the defensive side of the game.


Sterling yields possession far too easily and in the heat of Manaus, keeping the ball will be a crucial part of the game.

While Welbeck’s attacking game needs some refining, the United man is adept at holding the ball up and winning the ball back.

This is something that Sterling does not offer to Hodgson and his lack of big-game experience should also count against him.

Sterling has just four caps to his name compared to Welbeck’s 24 and the United striker has been to a major tournament before – playing a starring role at Euro 2012.

While youth and exuberance is required within any squad, experience cannot be overlooked and the fact that Sterling has so little of it must surely count against him.

The Liverpool man would be better utilised from the bench, making an impact late on in games where his pace and energy will be a more dangerous proposition than if he were to start.

England don’t need to be opening up the game up against Italy where they will fare better if the game is tight.



Welbeck will allow Hodgson the flexibility to adapt his mindset during games and give England the option of playing a defensive counter-attacking game or adopting a more attacking approach.

Sterling will not offer that to Hodgson as his defensive game is non-existent and his selection from the start would leave England too open against high-class opposition like Italy and Uruguay.

While there is pressure on Hodgson from the England fans to go for the more exciting and glamorous selection of Sterling, the manager must resist that pressure and choose the best approach for the side who will do well to even progress past the group stage.

Welbeck is the safe option for sure, but that doesn’t make him a negative choice – it makes him the right choice.

For some reason, England fans have an obsession with the youngster who does things a little bit out of the ordinary and overlook the role that more understated players such as Welbeck play for the team as a whole.

If England want to beat Italy, Welbeck must get the nod with Sterling held back in reserve for when the heat has taken effect on the opposition.