Less than a week after Brendan Rodgers pleaded with England not to allow the talented Raheem Sterling play with the England Under-21’s in order to allow a smooth and slow development to his football career the Liverpool gaffer must now be smashing his head with frustration after England called up the 17 year old to the full squad.
Roy Hodgson’s pack has been hit by an illness over the weekend with Theo Walcott and Daniel Sturridge particularly affected. Therefore options have become thin with a place opening up for wide players to make a name for themselves. Along with the good call-ups of Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore came the sensational decision to overlook Scott Sinclair, who could probably have more claim then Raheem for an England berth.
Other players have had such a meteoric rise into the England setup of course, Theo Walcott can vouch for that and Wayne Rooney made an almost instantaneous impact after Sven handed him his debut in 2003. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another who springs to mind. If they are good enough they are old enough, right?
Somehow the reason for Raheem’s call-up is unlikely to be simply a reflection of his obvious talents and potential but more to avoid him playing for Jamaica. The former QPR youngster was born in Kingston and resided there until 5 years old and his mother has not made a secret of her personal desire to see her son represent the Reggae Boyz. Raheem himself has not discounted such a possibility either, I mean his blood is Jamaican and anybody who has watched Athletics in recent years will know of the pride Jamaicans have in their heritage.
England will not want to get stung again by a player who has represented them through all the youth age groups turning their back on them for their home nation again. Victor Moses should be a regular in the England set-up now and in the future but instead he represents Nigeria proudly.
At 17 years old do not be surprised to see Raheem thrown into the action at some point against Ukraine, simply to make him ineligible for Jamaica by playing in a FIFA recognised fixture.
Buoyed by their recent win over USA, Jamaica are feeling confident and attractive and are reportedly ready to try luring Raheem into their setup so this is a bold and educated decision by the FA and Hodgson in tandem as Sterling looks like a future international player. He will gain countless experience amongst this group of players. With club captain Steven Gerrard there for support and council he should settle in just fine and hopefully lay the seeds of a future England career.
Does age matter or should we tie down Raheem for his inherited country and reap the future benefits of the Jamaican born talent?
image: © kong niffe