Sterling ‘performing at the highest level’, says Henderson

Midfielder Jordan Henderson says Raheem Sterling is cashing in on his hard work after his England goal glut continued.

It seems remarkable to think that Sterling went over 1,000 days without scoring for his country after he bagged his eighth goal in eight games in the 5-3 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kosovo on Tuesday.

The Manchester City forward also claimed three assists and has become one of the most productive players in Europe.

Henderson and Sterling are locked in a duel with their club sides, with Liverpool and City matching each other blow for blow in the Premier League.

Jordan Henderson paid tribute to Raheem Sterling following his performance against Kosovo
Jordan Henderson paid tribute to Raheem Sterling following his performance against Kosovo (Adam Davy/PA).

Henderson knows Sterling’s form will be vital if England are to claim major silverware any time soon but hopes it will be restricted to international level.

“Raheem’s a fantastic player,” the Liverpool midfielder said. “He’s been playing like this for many years, he’s always been so good to play with.

“Now he’s getting his rewards, he’s getting goals and assists and you can see his confidence growing.

“He’s performing at the highest level and hopefully he can continue to do that.

“He’s getting in the right areas, he’s scoring goals and assisting goals. Of course he’s going to be confident, he’s doing really well and he’s still looking to improve all the time.

“We just need him to keep doing it – more for England than City! He’s a great lad and a fantastic player.”

The gloss was taken off England’s win against Kosovo by some shoddy defending after the break which gifted their visitors two goals.

They also handed Kosovo a lead inside 34 seconds and the general consensus is that, although they can outscore lesser teams, Gareth Southgate’s men will be punished by stronger opposition.

England v Kosovo – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group A – St Mary’s
Kosovo’s Vedat Muriqi (left) scores his side’s third goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying, Group A match at St Mary’s, Southampton.

“We’re disappointed, especially with their goals,” Henderson added. “At times we did some really good stuff with the ball, but we need to be defensively better at times and that’s something we need to improve on going forward.

“It’s important to keep clean sheets as well. That’s what we need to do as well.

“We can’t always rely on the front three to score. We need to defend properly as a team first and foremost.

“I thought attacking-wise we were really good, but defensively we can improve. We gave the ball away very sloppily at times.

“Lots of room for improvement but overall we got the job done with three points, which was very important.”

Close