England coach Roy Hodgson believes he should not be solely responsible for resting Raheem Sterling after the Liverpool midfielder asked to "sit out" the Euro 2016 qualifier in Estonia.
Hodgson said Sterling, 19, complained about fatigue on the eve of the game.
"He said, 'I'm feeling tired, I'd rather sit this one out'," Hodgson told BBC Radio 5 live after the 1-0 win.
The 67-year-old added: "It's unfair if all the expectations to give the player a little bit of a break fall on me."
Sterling came on in the 64th minute for club-mate Jordan Henderson, and was fouled for the free-kick that England captain Wayne Rooney curled into the bottom right-hand corner to maintain England's 100% record after three games in Group E.
The teenager has already been rested by club manager Brendan Rodgers this campaign for the league match against Aston Villa in September.
|Former England full-back Danny Mills|
|"The final ball wasn't good enough. Is Wayne Rooney still our best player, and why is it we seem to struggle against these so-called lesser nations?|
|"As far as Raheem Sterling, I'd want to play every international game I could at this stage. I don't really believe a player his age will have gone to the manager and told him he's tired. Has there been influence from elsewhere? The club manager, for example? Who knows."|
"He broke into the Liverpool team, had a fantastic season and then went to the World Cup. He is only a 19-year-old," added Hodgson.
"It is not as simple as the training you are having may be taking a bit of juice from your legs.
"There is an awful lot going on in your head as well, so perhaps it is quite simply that the season has not started as well for Liverpool, and he is in the spotlight for England and Liverpool. Maybe that has had some effect. I don't know. It's a theory."
Another Anfield team-mate, Adam Lallana, was picked instead of Sterling in the starting XI in Tallinn.
"To be fair to the lad [Sterling], I had a decision to make because Lallana was so good in the second half against San Marino.
|Chief football writer Phil McNulty|
|"Raheem Sterling's absence after England manager Roy Hodgson revealed Liverpool's teenager had told him he was feeling tired generated a lot of heat in freezing Tallinn on Sunday.|
|"How can a 19-year-old be tired in the early weeks of October? How can he be jaded after only playing 45 minutes of the 5-0 win against San Marino? Is this the spectre of club v country rearing its head again?"|
|Read more from Phil|
"It was simple one. When he suggested he wasn't 100% in terms of fitness and recovery, it would have been foolish to leave a player like Lallana, who is raring to go, out of the team.
"Having Sterling up your sleeve can be a very, very important factor. There's nothing wrong with him. I'm sure when he goes back to Liverpool he'll be fine."
Meanwhile, Hodgson clarified that he had not been intending to replace Rooney just before he broke the deadlock with a 73rd-minute free-kick.
"Wayne would have been frustrated and disappointed if this ended 0-0 - he's a self-critical player and self-critical captain," he said.
"He would have looked at the performance of himself and other front players and would have said 'we are playing good football, but it's up to us to put the chances away'.
"If he hadn't put that away he would been the first one to criticise himself for not doing so."