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Is Pochettino afraid to play Sterling? Chelsea boss explains

Sterling missed Chelsea's last 2 games after suffering food poisoning.
  • Winger has dropped down pecking order
  • Targeted by terrace jeers at times
  • Coach explains selection calls

WHAT HAPPENED?

The experienced England international has not started a Premier League game for the Blues since March 11, with questions being asked of his contribution to the collective cause. Jeers have been aimed in the 29-year-old’s direction by those in the stands on occasion.

WHAT POCHETTINO SAID ABOUT STERLING

Explaining why Sterling has been benched, Pochettino insists selection calls are not driven by fan feelings. The Argentine said: “It’s because we assess all the player’s performance, and I think we need to be fair, or trying to be fair, and we gave the opportunity to Noni Madueke to play. And to put [Cole] Palmer in another position to find a good balance. You know, we’ve got to get [someone] on the left, and I think it’s because we assess the player’s form and then make a decision. It’s only for that. Not because of the situation, [that isn’t] going to make me change my mind. And I think the team is not suffering for this. It’s only because I analyse the form of the player. And then I need to make decisions. He didn’t play in Sheffield because, in the same way we assess the squad, we assess the player, and we assess the player’s form. We got some feelings because we see the players training every day. We, in our opinion and assessment, believe that they are the best players to play because they are performing well or better than another. You know that’s how we made the choice.”

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THE BIGGER PICTURE

Sterling may be missing again when Chelsea play host to Everton on Monday, with back pain and illness forcing him to sit out training sessions. Pochettino added: “He sent a text to the doctor saying that he was vomiting. He’s not been training since after Sheffield because he suffered a little bit in his back also. We need to assess and see. It’s a virus, and we need to assess.”

WHAT NEXT FOR STERLING?

Sterling has only registered 17 goals for the Blues since moving to Stamford Bridge from Manchester City in the summer of 2022, with that haul achieved through 76 appearances. He faces fierce competition for places and is among those to have seen a move to join Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League touted.

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