Rio Ferdinand has told Gareth Southgate to ‘free Raheem Sterling’ after admitting his amazement at the Chelsea forward being left out of the most recent England squad.
Southgate omitted Sterling from his Three Lions squad that will take on Malta and North Macedonia in their final European Championship qualifying games, with the Three Lions having already secured their place in next year’s competition.
Sterling was once a regular in Southgate’s set-up but has now been left out of five consecutive squads, with his last national team appearance coming in last year’s World Cup quarter-final defeat against France.
The 28-year-old has been in scintillating form for Chelsea this season – scoring five goals and registering two assists in all competitions – and starred again in their thrilling weekend draw against Man City.
His Chelsea team-mate Cole Palmer was brought into Southgate’s England team on Monday as a late addition but there was no call-up for Sterling and the player will now enjoy time off during the international break.
However, Rio Ferdinand balked at the forward’s omission from the national team and delivered an impassioned rant demanding Sterling be given another opportunity.
‘Free Sterling. Free my guy Raheem Sterling,’ stated Ferdinand on his Vibe with Five YouTube show.
‘I don’t know what he’s done, who’s nose he has put out of join. I dont know what’s happened.
‘But for him to not be in the England squad is beyond me. Listen, there’s a lot of talent don’t get me wrong, but if we’re talking form then he’s got more goals and assists or goal involvements than Rashford and Grealish put together.
‘Has he been tried and tested at the top level? He was England’s best player at the Euros,’ added Rio Ferdinand.
‘The Euros was a good couple of years ago so people might go it’s a couple years ago but Kalvin Phillips is playing off the back of a good Euros, Maguire is playing off the back of a good Euros.
‘If they are getting in because of that what’s happened to Sterling? Free him. Free up Sterling,’ he said.
The attacking players picked ahead of Sterling include Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Jarrod Bowen, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, and Ollie Watkins.
Southgate has preferred to play with Saka, Kane and Rashford in attack when all three are fit and a big name would have to be dropped to accommodate Sterling.
Liverpool legend similarly questioned why the Chelsea star wasn’t called up and claimed Sterling ‘has a case’ for feeling disappointed.