Gareth Southgate has revealed he'll change one of his selection policy 'rules' in order to continue picking Raheem Sterling for the England team.
Sterling was the national team's star man in the summer, as Southgate and the team progressed to their first final of a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup win.
The Manchester City forward scored three times and won the all important, and highly controversial, penalty against Denmark in the semi-finals.
However, he has returned back to his club this season and found himself on the periphery of Pep Guardiola's plans, starting just three games in the Premier League and playing most of his time as a false nine, rather than out wide.
Despite that lack of football, Southgate has continued to call up the 26-year-old and the manager has now explained that he's willing to change his selection rules to allow Sterling to carry on being a member of his team.
"We touched on this a little bit when I named the squad and I know I do always say there is a preference for us that players are playing regularly because they're match-sharp, they're ready," the Three Lions boss said in his pre match press conference.
"But if their physical condition is good and they're playing enough football, then also, we've got to look at who we feel our best players are.
"That doesn't mean they're undroppable, and I think any player in the squad has been in or out at some time, Raheem included.
"And that doesn't mean if we're not playing well, we won't take players off, because we've also done that, but there's a balance with your selection.
"OK, who's in form, but over how long a period is that, have they produced in the big matches yet, do we know quite yet what they can do?
"And Raheem has proved time and time again with us how important he's been, and that his level is really high.
"He's at a club with an incredible roster of players that it's complicated at times to get games, but he'll work his way into the team, I'm sure."
Southgate has always talked about playing for a club as a key priority to call ups, to avoid what previous England managers have been accused of by calling up favourites.
However it's understandable with his previous form for the national team, especially with the relatively short breaks between international breaks at the start of the season, that he wants Sterling involved.
The England boss did also add that the former Liverpool forward was short of playing time headed into last summer's tournament and he still saw a motivated player.
"He hadn’t played so much towards the end of the season, but did play the [Champions League] final and he was hungry and sharp and ready to go and that’s how I’ve seen him this week.
"I know he enjoys his football with us, we’ve benefited massively from all of his attacking play, but of course his goals especially. I’ve not sensed a player that is low or unenergised. I’ve seen absolutely the opposite."
Sterling's troubles at the Etihad Stadium have seen him strongly linked with a move away from City in the January transfer window, with Barcelona rumoured to be interested.
The Catalan giants have lost Sergio Aguero for a few months, and he may even retire, following complications with his heart, and are in need of another forward.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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