DUBLIN: England manager Roy Hodgson advised forward Raheem Sterling to develop a ‘thicker skin’ after the Liverpool contract rebel struggled in a generally disappointing goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
Sterling was booed from start to finish at the Aviva Stadium, with Irish supporters relentlessly mocking the 20-year-old who has said he will not extend his Anfield contract and wants to leave now. He was substituted by Andros Townsend after 66 minutes.
Hodgson said later: “He’s going through a bad time publicly. You can’t expect people just to shrug off the criticism he has been receiving, not least from the local media in Liverpool. That becomes national pretty quickly.
“He does ever so well and tries well to shrug it off, to let his football do the talking. He needed this game to realise that, if he is going to get it out of his system, he’s going to have work harder still and get a thicker skin than he has at the moment.
“We only took him off today was to give others the game, to air the squad.”
Hodgson said he would retain faith in Sterling against Slovenia in next Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier.
He said: “I trust Sterling. But players are not robots. He’s done some fantastic things for us but here he didn’t hit those heights.”
More important, the match went off comparatively peacefully compared with the game 20 years ago which had to be abandoned in the first half after crowd trouble.