Gareth Southgate keeps faith in Raheem Sterling despite Pep Guardiola’s decision

Gareth Southgate admits he has complete faith in England sensation Raheem Sterling – even if Pep Guardiola doesn't.

Sterling has started just one game for Manchester City this season after finding himself axed following his side's defeat at Tottenham on the opening weekend of the new campaign.

But the chances of the same thing happening to him at international level are non-existent, as Sterling continues to outline his importance to Southgate's masterplan of winning a major trophy before he calls time on his stint as England boss.

Sterling proved his worth to Southgate once again on Thursday night to inspire the Three Lions to a crucial World Cup qualifying win over Hungary in Budapest.

The winger opened the scoring with his 18th international goal, before setting up a second for Harry Kane as England ran riot in the second half to romp to a 4-0 triumph.

Sterling has now plundered 16 goals in his last 24 appearances for England, with three of these helping to lead Southgate's men to the Euro 2020 Final this summer.

His club place might now be in doubt following City's decision to smash the British transfer record and sign Jack Grealish in a £100m deal.

But Southgate is in no doubts about the vital role Sterling still has for his country – and reckons the 26-year-old has emerged as his star amongst stars in the current squad.

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Southgate said: "He has been consistently one of our most important players. I know it is great that we haven't got one star player who everybody ends up talking about, which is remarkable when you consider we have the likes of Kane and Sterling and others in the group.

"It is always about the collective, but his performances have been so important to us for such a long time. He really sets the tone with the way he works without the ball.

"When you have a creative talent like he is that is prepared to really commit to the team and weigh in with the goals and assists that he has over a long period of time now, he has been a fabulous player for us to work with and he is so important to what we do."

Despite his phenomenal record in recent years and relentless campaigning against racism, Sterling is someone Southgate believes is still not appreciated enough.

Southgate, who could hand Sterling his 70th cap in Sunday's Group I qualifier against Andorra at Wembley, added: "I've got a very good relationship with him – and he knows what we think of him, he's very comfortable in our environment.

"Of course there's incredible competition for places at Manchester City as well as here, but for us he has just been consistently a player who has delivered in matches and we have had complete faith in him.

"He has more than rewarded that faith in the goals he has scored. This summer he was outstanding. I do think he doesn't really get the recognition he deserves.

"He often goes under the radar and almost seems to have to continually prove himself. I was asked about that in the summer, so let's keep hoping he has to keep proving himself in the way he did again in Budapest."

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