Raheem Sterling says that England’s front three could be special but they need to do so in big games at tournaments to be considered great.
Sterling is expected to be part of an attacking trio with Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho in England’s game with the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Other options upfront include Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Even England manager Gareth Southgate called his striking options “world-class” but Sterling thinks they are some way shy of that at the moment.
“I think that there are a lot of great front threes in the world,” he said.
“I think with the players you mention, they’re all players that are still getting better, still learning, but at the same time are producing as well, so it’s an exciting front three, but you know, we’ve got to do it in big games, big tournaments.
“That’s when we’ll be judged if we’re a great front three or not.”
If the squad do fire on all cylinders a place in next summer’s European Championships final may await.
The semi-finals and final and final are due to be played in a stadium near where Sterling grew up in the shadow of Wembley.
For him, the prospect of international glory is never off his mind.
“It’s something you think of all the time, especially coming so close in the World Cup and having such a good run as a team,” he explained.
“I think we’re developing and we’re kind of getting that winning mentality. The Nations League was a bit disappointing, but we’ve got another chance now and I feel that a lot of the players don’t just want to be involved in tournaments and finish in the quarter-finals and say that was a good run, or the semi-finals.
“I’d say every single player, and the manager, all want to go into tournaments with the thought of winning it. It will be a difficult task but it’s definitely something that we all dream of winning.”
For all the attacking talent at Southgate’s disposal, only Sterling has won silverware.
“You know, there will be games when our attack is not quite up to scratch but we’ve got to grind out a result and wait for a key moment in the game, which will be a set-piece, and score that. “