• World Cup

'Sterling is so good, you can't get the ball off him'

ESPN staff
June 16, 2014
Raheem Sterling's pace and trickery was a constant threat to Italy's defence © Getty Images

Jordan Henderson says opposing players simply "cannot take the ball" off Raheem Sterling and has backed his Liverpool and England team-mate to get even better in Brazil.

Sterling impressed in his World Cup debut against Italy on Saturday and his pace caused constant some serious problems for their defenders in Manaus.

"He showed on the world stage just how good he is," Henderson said. "He was outstanding. I don't care who's defending against him: you cannot take the ball off him. It's as simple as that.

"He's got fantastic feet, he's so strong, and for a young lad he's so intelligent and difficult to pick up in certain positions. He'll keep getting better and better."

The 19-year-old almost enjoyed a superb start to his tournament when he fired into the side-netting from range, with several television stations mistakenly announcing he had scored.

Shortly after Italy's opening goal, Sterling played a fine pass through to Wayne Rooney which led to England's equalising goal. His contribution earned special praise from Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and even has Rooney concerned over his place in Hodgson's team to start against Uruguay on Thursday.

Henderson added: "Raheem's intelligence getting on the ball, turning and getting past players was outstanding. He had a big impact in the first goal, playing [Wayne] Rooney in and he put a great ball across for Sturridge and a good finish. Raheem was brilliant."

With England in desperate need of a victory against Luis Suarez and co in Sao Paulo, Henderson says they will go from strength-to-strength in their bid to qualify for the knockout stage.

"Especially first half, counter-attacking, we looked really good. There was a lot of pace, a lot of power, going forward. We were very exciting going forward. That's where the goal came from. I think we'll keep improving. Our next game will be even better."

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