September 10th, 2012
England manager Roy Hodgson faces a battle to keep hold of one of the nation’s hottest prospect after Jamaican football chiefs revealed they hope to convince Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling to switch allegiances.
The 17-year-old Anfield winger has been one of the standout performers in the Barclays Premier league this season following his first-team elevation under new manager Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers warned the Football Association to bide their time with the Kingston-born starlet amid fears they were about to fast-track him from the Under 19s squad to the Under 21s last week.
Sterling instead played just over an hour during the 3-1 under 19 defeat to Germany in Hamburg.
But now Jamaica boss Theodore Whitmore wants Sterling to make the switch to the country of his birth and help spearhead their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign.
High hopes: Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore, greeting USA boss Hurgen Klinsmann last weekend, wants Sterling on board
‘We definitely showed an interest in Sterling before and we are just waiting on him now for the go-ahead,’ former Hull and Tranmere star Whitmore told STAR Sports after Jamaica’s 2-1 weekend win over USA.
‘We have seen him a number of times, he is a quality player with a lot to offer this programme, but it’s up to him and the door is open.
‘I don’t want to go into any further details but, as I said, he is definitely someone we have our eyes on and it’s all up to him now.’
Sterling is a talent the FA will not want to lose. He has represented England at schoolboy international level and in the Uder 17s before his rise to the Under 19s.
After talks with director of football development and Stuart Pearce, it would appear Reds boss Rodgers would rather Sterling stuck to his current development programme with England.
‘I think, with young players, you have to be careful,’ he said last week.
‘They can be elevated above their station too quickly. It is all about individual needs.
‘It might look great on the back pages that he is involved in the Under-21s but the reality is that this is a kid who has made great strides over the last few weeks.
‘He was absolutely fantastic through pre-season. You have seen his quality, courage and attitude in games – it has been fantastic. But, for the moment, let’s just stay calm.’
The decision will now rest with Sterling – a player who could feature in senior boss Hodgson’s 2014 plans should the Three Lions qualify for Brazil – as Jamaica hold on to hope that he may turn to the Reggae Boys.
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