Raheem Sterling: 'Tired' teenager defended by Rio Ferdinand

Raheem Sterling (right)
Raheem Sterling (right) has not scored for England in 10 appearances

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has defended Raheem Sterling's request to "sit out" England's 1-0 win over Estonia on Sunday because of fatigue.

Sterling was used as a substitute in the Euro 2016 Group E qualifier after telling boss Roy Hodgson he was tired.

Ferdinand said more English players should follow the 19-year-old's lead as it would benefit the national team.

He said on Twitter:external-link "Fair play to him. English players are normally too proud to do that unlike our foreign friends."

Sterling came on as a 64th-minute substitute in Tallinn and was fouled for the free-kick that captain Wayne Rooney scored from.

The teenager, who has played 1,079 minutes of football this season, responded to criticisms from fans by tweeting: external-link"Excuse me for being human. On my way home."

Former England full-back Danny Mills
"If I was 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."

Last month Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had promised to protect the teenagerexternal-link in a bid to avoid the experiences of Michael Owen, whose career stuttered from his mid-twenties onwards because of injury.

Like Owen, who made the England 1998 World Cup squad aged 18, Sterling has become a key player for both his club and country at a young age.

Ferdinand said he and other England players, like Rooney and Steven Gerrard, would have benefited from more rest and pointed to his former Manchester United team-mate Carolos Tevez, who would not take part in training when tired.

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?"

The former defender added on Twitter: "Tevez would come in some days and sit on the massage bed while the team trained. "I'm tired"... match day - firing and energised.

"With more rest at the right times throughout seasons, Rooney would have gone into tournaments for England fresher 100%. Too proud again.

"Same could be said of Gerrard, [Frank] Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole myself etc - all too proud to sit out of training or a match with the bigger picture in mind.

Roy Hodgson (left) with Raheem Sterling
England coach Roy Hodgson believes he should not be solely responsible for resting Raheem Sterling

"Going by many of the responses on here - because players earn a fortune they cannot get tired. Leave off!"

Former England rugby union captain Will Carling also sympathised with Sterling.

"Always amazed how simplistic some people are," Carling tweeted. external-link"Professional sportspeople can never get tired/ lose form. They get paid! They're still human!!

"I am not just talking footy. Sometimes the adrenaline is just not there. The extra edge. Down to opposition, or fatigue."