England's Raheem Sterling defended by David Beckham after World Cup criticism

England's Raheem Sterling defended by David Beckham after World Cup criticism

Raheem Sterling would be playing for Exeter City instead of England if he didn't have pace, according to Vinnie Jones.

And ahead of England's semi-final against Croatia on Wednesday evening, Jones has questioned whether Sterling should keep his place in Southgate's starting lineup ahead of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.

However, the England manager is hesitant to change what has been a winning formula in Russian Federation and Sterling is odds on to retain his place in the lineup when the Three Lions take on Croatia in the semi-final on Wednesday night.

"They dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a hard opponent and we respect them", he said.

Croatia's shoot-out victory over Russian Federation was their second straight win on penalties at the World Cup, having beaten Denmark in the same fashion in the last-16, and Dalic admitted that playing 120 minutes twice in the last six days was not ideal, particularly as some of his players are now carrying injuries. "He offers so much to the team", the Tottenham midfielder said.

"It's so clear to see if you were to watch back all our games up to now the importance he has to the team".

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'I think he's had a fantastic tournament so far and hopefully that can continue in the next week'. We knew that we could only make amends for that, and that is what we have been trying to do.

"But we believe in our strengths, too".

"We as a country are united behind the team".

To do so, and seal their first World Cup final in 52 years, England will need to see off a Croatia side who thrashed Argentina in the group stage and edged Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties to reach the last four.

It starts with Luka Modric in midfield, who is in contention to win the Golden Ball award.

The 51-year-old coach, who has only been in charge of the national side since October, said: "I wouldn't say there are any glaring weaknesses - they are in the semi-finals, that says it all".

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