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Saturday 3 December 2016

Raheem Sterling will become a better player after Man City transfer saga, says Roy Hodgson

Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling is congratulated by Bruno Zuculini after scoring early during their match against AS Roma in Melbourne
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling is congratulated by Bruno Zuculini after scoring early during their match against AS Roma in Melbourne

Raheem Sterling will emerge from the furore surrounding his transfer to Manchester City stronger for the experience, according to England boss Roy Hodgson.

The 20-year-old enraged Liverpool fans by making clear he wanted to leave Anfield after turning down a lucrative contract offer.

Hodgson believes Sterling coped mentally with any fall-out, and said: "He was playing for a club with a very strong fan base, not only in England but in other parts of the world, and unfortunately for him, I suppose, the fans locally at Liverpool took unkindly to the fact that he made it clear he wanted to move.

"That is part and parcel of football really. I think if anything that will help him to mature and improve even more. I think for his age he is a remarkably strong and robust person, not just physically on the field but mentally.

"And these things, if anything, will make him stronger. He has got a big price tag to carry around, but I think he is a good enough player to do so."

Hodgson said Sterling was "exceptional" and would be part of the England set-up in years to come.

He added: "We have had a lot of faith in Raheem Sterling. He has never been out of our thoughts at any time, whether he has been playing well or not playing well or in the team or not in the team.

"We have always had him in our 25 as a player for the future who we think, if we are ever going to become a really good team, we need players like him because of his exceptional talent."

Hodgson also expressed hope that the injury suffered to another City new signing Fabian Delph would prove not to be serious.

Delph lasted less than 20 minutes in his City debut against Real Madrid on Friday and left the field on a stretcher with a suspected hamstring injury, which is still being assessed.

Hodgson said: "I don't know quite how severe that injury is. We don't play until September. We are still in July so one hopes it is not going to be an injury which keeps him out until September."

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