World Sports: Gerrard to score 100 caps; Debuts for Sterling, Osman and Caulker
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World sporting news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Captain Steven Gerrard is set to become the sixth player to reach the milestone of 100 caps for England in tonight’s friendly against Sweden and feels he still has a lot more fuel left in his international tank.
The 32-year-old midfielder has had to cope with a few more injuries in recent times but is confident he can keep making a telling contribution for his country.
“My journey has been full of ups and downs and I feel there are a few chapters to write. I don’t feel my England career is coming to an end,” Gerrard told reporters yesterday.
“I’m slightly nervous, very excited and can’t wait for the game to start. I try to be the driving force, get assists and goals and lead by example.”
There were doubts over Gerrard’s fitness when he received a knock in Sunday’s Premier League game at Chelsea but a scan gave the Liverpool skipper the all-clear.
Goalkeeper Peter Shilton (125), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Bobby Charlton (106) and Billy Wright (105) have also reached a century of England appearances, with Beckham the most-capped outfield player.
“David’s a hero of mine and it is not important if I beat his record, it is just about qualifying for the next major tournament,” Gerrard said of his former team mate who has not played for his country since 2009.
Roy Hodgson explained that Gerrard’s captaincy had been a highlight since he took over as manager in May.
“I’ve been exceptionally pleased with his leadership qualities, giving younger lads a wise, calming, comforting word,” said Hodgson who also briefly worked with Gerrard at Liverpool in 2010-11.
Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes the midfielder is no ordinary performer.
“He feels more like an international player rather than a normal English player,” said Ibrahimovic.
“English players have big hearts, they are always fighting and are very aggressive but for me Gerrard feels more international. He has more skills than the normal player.
“He must be a very good person to have as a team mate. He always gives 200 percent,” added Ibrahimovic.
Sterling, Osman and Caulker to make England debuts
England will also hand debuts to forward Raheem Sterling, midfielder Leon Osman and defender Steven Caulker in the friendly against Sweden in Stockholm, British media have reported.
Everton’s Osman, 31 years and 181 days old, and Liverpool’s Sterling, aged 17 and 342 days, would span the biggest age gap between England debutants in the same match since the Second World War.
“Steven Caulker and Raheem have been playing regularly for the under-21s and have made that transition you expect players to make when they are playing well for the under-21s into the national team,” Hodgson told reporters regarding the 20-year-old Tottenham Hotspur player and the Anfield youngster.
“Leon Osman is the odd one out, he’s a bit different. He has been performing regularly and well for Everton but has been passed over.
“I thought it was time to give him a chance because he has been one of the unsung heroes of a very good football club and a very good football team for many years.
“He is a very energetic player. And the fact he is 31 surprises me because he plays like a much younger man.
“Let’s hope that continues and I won’t have to worry about his birth certificate.”
Sterling would become England’s fifth youngest player.
“In some of the Liverpool games I have seen, he has pretty much been the star player,” said Hodgson, who worked with Sterling when he was Liverpool manager.
“He is extremely dangerous with his ability to run with the ball, his pace and directness. He has even scored one or two important goals.
“If he can do it on a regular basis for Liverpool in the Premier League I have every right to think he can do it playing for England as well.”
Anticipated England starting line-up: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur), Leighton Baines (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Leon Osman (Everton), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Ashley Young (Manchester United).
Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30 tomorrow morning and is viewable on channel 9 in Phuket.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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