Though England have progressed to the knockout stages of Euro 2016, winger Raheem Sterling has thus far had a tournament to forget.
The Manchester City forward has delivered two subpar performances in an England shirt at the tournament so far, and despite manager Roy Hodgson coming in for criticism for making so many changes for the recent 0-0 draw with Solvakia, the dropping of Sterling was generally well received.
Twitter has been ablaze almost from the second England their campaign with the more vocal sections of fans demanding that the former Liverpool player be replaced with someone like Jamie Vardy or Daniel Sturridge.
In fact, a crowdfunding campaign was set up last week in order to raise the necessary funds to fly Sterling back to Manchester from France (which at the time of writing has raised over £1,300), such was the general dissatisfaction with the 21 year old’s displays against Russia and Wales.
He was roundly booed during the latter match, and the decision to take both Sterling and Harry Kane at half time proved to be the right one as the replacements, Vardy and Sturridge, each scored in the 2-1 victory.
Now it seems that the abuse is taking its toll on the young player, with concerns being flagged from inside the England camp as to his mental state in the face of such vitriolic abuse.
The Guardian are reporting that Sterling is keeping abreast of the situation on social media, and has been left stunned by the fact that for many he is now England’s scapegoat for this tournament.
He has been seeking advice from the squad’s psychiatrist, Dr. Steve Peters, and while Hodgson has been quick to publicly downplay the effect that the situation is having on Sterling’s confidence, assistant Ray Lewington’s comments in a recent press conference were far more telling:
“It’s not nice to see people like Sterling being booed – it does hurt,
“People think they earn loads of money and have no feelings – it’s completely wrong. They are human beings, they feel things, particularly when they are young and trying to find their feet and it wasn’t nice.
“We’re going to try and look after him and try to ease him back, not rush him because we know there’s a really good player there.”
Hodgson is expected to make a number of changes for next Monday’s last 16 clash with Iceland, though Sterling is set to remain on the bench. Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli are all likely to come back into the side, while full backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose will also probably return.
In fact, at this stage the chances of seeing Sterling start another game at this tournament are relatively.