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Southgate opens up on why has been so impressed by Raheem Sterling

Gareth Southgate has opened up on Raheem Sterling and discussed why he has been so impressed by the mentality and performances of the England international.

Sterling was the match-winner after converting a stoppage-time penalty in England’s 1-0 Nations League victory over Iceland on Saturday evening, the winger continuing his fine recent record for the national side.

The 25-year-old has established himself as an indispensable figure for both club and country in recent seasons, and Southgate has lavished praise on the Manchester City star for his attitude this week after being dropped for November’s clash against Montenegro following a clash with teammate Joe Gomez.

Speaking on Sterling ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Denmark, Southgate said: “I can’t speak highly enough of him really. It would have been very easy to have another few days on the beach, not report in, get himself right for his club at the ­beginning of the season.

“His mentality the whole week has been exceptional. Desperate to be here, desperate to play, desperate to stay on.

“I thought he carried the fight when we went down to 10 men and he took the ­responsibility of the penalty. His desire to win and succeed is exceptional.”

After an indifferent goalscoring record in the early years of his England career, Sterling has now fired a hugely impressive 11 goals in his past 12 appearances for the Three Lions.

That fine form has coincided with a career-best season at the Etihad that delivered 31 goals in all competitions and Southgate believes the star has ‘taken his game to another level’ in recent campaigns.

“I thought, with Kevin De Bruyne, he was the outstanding player in the Champions League game where they went out, and he’s just been ­relentless,” said Southgate.

“His hunger to score, his ­hunger to win things, his hunger to drive himself – you ­really can’t underestimate it.

“It has a massive impact on everybody around him and ­really has taken his game to ­another level.”

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