You could sense the feeling of ‘here we go again’ when the clock creeped into the 90th minute of England’s World Cup opener against Tunisia on Monday.
It would have been so typical of England to cruise through qualifying and beat Nigeria and Costa Rica in their warm-up matches before drawing to Tunisia.
But Harry Kane was having none of it.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker, who had given England the lead in the first half, popped up in the 91st minute to hand Gareth Southgate’s side a deserved 2-1 win at the Volgograd Arena.
So all smiles, then – except if you’re Raheem Sterling.
The Manchester City winger didn’t produce his best performance in an England shirt, fluffing his lines from close range early on, and he was replaced by Marcus Rashford in the 68th minute.
After watching how England played, Jamie Carragher believes Southgate should consider replacing Sterling in his line-up for the meeting with Panama on Sunday.
CARRAGHER’S CONCERNED ABOUT STERLING
Carragher criticised Sterling’s finishing and also wondered whether there’s a place for him in England’s team.
“I don’t think there’s a great goalscoring record from the players supporting Harry Kane – Sterling, Dele Alli, Lingard,” the former Liverpool and England centre-back said on the Telegraph’s Total Football podcast.
“It won’t have helped tonight that Lingard and Sterling’s finishing wasn’t what you would expect from the big chances to put away.
“I know that Raheem Sterling got a lot of goals this season but he’s not a great striker of the ball.
“His finishing has never been something that jumps out of you as one of his main strengths.
“The interesting thing with Sterling is that the way the team is set up now, it almost feels like there’s two or three No.10s in the team, without any of them being a classic No.10 because they’re all about pace.
“I think Sterling plays so close to Harry Kane now because the other players are there, in Lingard and Dele Alli in that space, you may as well actually play with a striker, rather than Sterling playing there and dropping deep because there’s enough players there already.
“So it may actually be something to look at, you know, the impact he made, Rashford, when he came on alongside Loftus-Cheek.
“He could also look at Vardy there. There could be a case of actually going two up front now, because England have plenty of players between the lines, the way this team is set up by Gareth Southgate.”
When asked if he would change things for the Panama game, Carragher continued: “I’d maybe look to bring in a striker alongside Harry Kane.
“I’ve never said that, or been an advocate of that, before this game because Harry Kane is used to playing on his own up front with Dele Alli just behind for Tottenham.
“But if you’ve got Lingard or Dele Alli already in there, if he’s going to stick with them for the next game, you might as well play with something else further up the pitch.”