FORMER England vice-captain Frank Lampard became the latest player to speak out in defence Raheem Sterling yesterday after the Liverpool winger complained of fatigue ahead of England’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia on Sunday.
Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has since questioned the Anfield club’s training policy which sees players only taking part in a full session three days after a match, an opinion renowned fitness guru Raymond Verheijen described as “so stupid”.
Lampard, who made a record-breaking 164 consecutive league appearances for Chelsea between 2001 and 2005, believes Sterling does not deserve such condemnation for his actions.
“I think he is actually quite a brave boy to say, ‘You know what, I am not quite at my best here’,” he said.
“I am actually quite upset, not with the manager as such, but that the aftermath has seen a lot of people criticising Raheem Sterling – who is probably in the top two or three players in our country and we need him to be at his best – for making quite a brave decision.
“I think we need to get behind him. Whether it is right or wrong, I don’t know, but we are all individuals and he made that call.”
Hodgson’s public jousting with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers intensified this week when the ex-Fulham boss voiced his scepticism over medical evidence supporting the need for players requiring a two-day recovery period.
But Verheijen, who has worked with Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea, fully endorses Liverpool’s approach, particularly in respect to explosive players who rely on pace, insisting Hodgson demonstrated a lack of knowledge. He said: “Roy Hodgson is denying the fact that fast muscle fibres recover slower, he makes himself look so stupid.”