England are preparing for two interesting international games, the first being a 2024 UEFA Euro qualifier against Ukraine this weekend followed by a friendly against rivals Scotland. However, one Premier League star was snubbed by Gareth Southgate and that man was Raheem Sterling.
The Chelsea attacker, who has been one of the club's only shining lights amid their poor start to the campaign, was surprisingly omitted from the national team for the September international break. While there are a handful of players ahead of Sterling in the pecking order, namely Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Bukayo Saka, some of the names that got in ahead of the 28-year-old raised a few eyebrows.
The likes of Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips were included while Jordan Henderson was also called up despite his departure from the Premier League to the Saudi Pro League. As a result, Sterling was understandably unhappy with this decision.
Speaking on this matter, Premier League icon Rio Ferdinand gave his thoughts, sharing advice to Sterling while also revealing what he would have done had he been in a similar position.
The former Manchester United center-back admitted that retirement could be an option, not only for Sterling but for James Ward-Prowse as well, who was omitted despite his spectacular start to life at West Ham.
"If I was Sterling, I'd be very disappointed bearing in mind what he's done for this England team when he's been in or around it," Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five YouTube channel.
"If you're going by the yardstick that Gareth's using with the likes of Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips. Why is it all right for them guys to get in and not him?
"Sterling's probably been the main bright spark at Chelsea. It's just nuts. I'd retire. If I'm someone like Ward-Prowse I'd just retire. Say, 'Listen, don't pick me no more. There's no point. It's disrespectful what you're doing'.
"It is to people like him, especially Ward-Prowse who's been putting up numbers for his team on a regular basis. What more does a man got to do to get a sniff?"
While retirement is a drastic suggestion for a player like Sterling, who will likely return to the national team in a matter of time so long as he maintains this form, it is part of a wider criticism aimed at Southgate and his squad selection.
The Three Lions boss has spoken about meritocracy before but has been slammed for his loyalty towards certain players, namely Harry Maguire, who often starts for the national team irrespective of his club form. In all fairness to the Manchester United ace, he typically delivers for England but, according to the public, the manager shows favoritism towards some while treating others harshly.
Nonetheless, as Southgate has stated before, he is simply focused on securing qualification for Euro 2024 and thus has his eyes set on the upcoming encounter with Ukraine, having beaten them 2-0 in their previous encounter.