Bengaluru, May 28: Manchester City star Raheem Sterling is in hot water with England manager Gareth Southgate after turning up late for World Cup duty.
The Manchester City star was given an extra day off and was meant to join the England squad on Tuesday (May 22) but the 23-year-old failed to show up at St George’s Park until Wednesday (May 23) after a mix-up with flights.
It is understood his no-show has not gone down well with Southgate as he attempts to plot a winning formula in Russia.
The England coach has put a massive emphasis on the group dynamic heading into the tournament, with Harry Kane appointed skipper but other players expected to show leadership.
And 23-year-old Sterling has been earmarked as one of his key players after a stunning season having scored 23 goals in all competitions and winning the Premier League title with Manchester City.
His initial extra day off was for a personal issue on Monday when most of Southgate’s squad met up.
Sterling was also reported to be on holiday in Ibiza and Jamaica between winning the Premier League and getting focused on Three Lions duty.
He is still one of England’s big hopes to dazzle in Russia and started friendlies in March against Holland and Italy.
Kane was injured for those games but Sterling is expected to be one of the forwards supporting the Tottenham star.
England are gearing up for their World Cup opener against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.
Sterling has also turned around his image with the Three Lions after branding himself “The Hated One” during Euro 2016 when the fans laid into him.
His form at City has been put down to super boss Pep Guardiola, who says Sterling will get even better when he polishes his finishing.
And Southgate named the ex-Liverpool winger as one of the potential stars of the summer when he named his squad.
He said: “In the March training sessions, Raheem scored more goals than I could ever remember him doing when he has trained with us before.
“You could see the groove he was in and the confidence in his play.
“For us, we just need to keep him heading in that direction.
“We have an opportunity in the first couple of weeks to work with individuals and to spend a bit of time on specifics.
“But we also have to make sure we are focusing on working again on what they are good at.
“There is a danger you can start to focus on what people are not doing so well — and we don’t want to detract from the players.”