John Barnes has questioned Raheem Sterling’s development and says the winger will always do better for England than Manchester City.
Sterling heads into Euro 2016 off the back of a testing first season at Manchester City. The £49million price tag appears to have weighed heavy on the 21-year-old since swapping Liverpool for the Etihad Stadium last summer.
Sterling managed just 23 league starts for City and produced an underwhelming display as England started their Euro 2016 preparations with a 2-1 win against Turkey at his home ground on Sunday.
However, Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has backed the winger to prove his worth this summer, as has fellow Jamaican-born dribbler Barnes.
“Has he improved since he left Liverpool? Has he made that impact at Manchester City?” he asked.
“For England it is different because Raheem Sterling has probably more of a chance of doing well or playing than he does for Manchester City.
“Of course, England don’t have a lot of players to choose from and he has been one of their main players, if you like, and one of the most dangerous players.
“I expect him to feature probably more for England than he would do for Manchester City.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Pep Guardiola comes next year, but I would feel more confident of him playing well for England than Man City because of the way they play.
“England wouldn’t mind him getting the ball and just beating five players. Man City play a different type of game and that’s where he has to improve if he wants to be a major player at City.
“But for England I think he will always do better than he will do for Manchester City.”
Sterling’s promising displays were one of the highlights in a disappointing World Cup and, two years on, there appears little chance of Hodgson cutting him from the 26-strong provisional squad before May 31.
Despite only being 21, the winger is one of the most experienced international players in the squad, with only seven members boasting more than his 21-cap haul.
That inexperience may help England play without inhibition in France, but Barnes, who won 79 caps for his country, is wary of it breeding inconsistency.
“I am excited about the squad,” Barnes said, speaking on behalf Vauxhall, the England Team sponsor.
“I am more excited about the World Cup in two years’ times when this young squad will have two more years of experience.
“Wayne Rooney was right the other day when he said that this team can beat anyone on their day, but can they put a consistent performance to win the Euros?
“With young players you get inconsistency as we saw when we beat Germany but then lost to Holland who haven’t qualified.
“I am excited on any one occasion, knowing this team can compete, but I wouldn’t put pressure on them.
“The future for England looks good if we handle them correctly.”