Frustrated Roy Hodgson tells Raheem Sterling to develop a ‘thicker skin’

Roy Hodgson has told Raheem Sterling to develop a ‘thicker skin’ after he was booed by Irish Liverpool supporters during England’s draw at the Aviva Stadium.

But Jordan Henderson has backed his club-mate to answer his critics on the pitch and use the furore over his future to become a ‘stronger person’.

Sterling was the target of abuse throughout the game from Liverpool fans furious he wants to leave the club this summer.

The 20-year-old made little impact before being substituted after 66 minutes and Hodgson told the winger his public image is suffering and he needs to be able to block out his critics if he is to prosper.

“I think he’s going through a bad time publicly,” said the England manager.

“You can’t expect people just to shrug off the criticism he has been receiving, not least from the local press in Liverpool. That becomes national pretty quickly. He does ever so well and tries well to shrug it off, to let his football do the talking. He needed this game to realise that, if he is going to get it out of his system, he’s going to have work harder still and get a thicker skin than he has. We only took him off today to give others the game, to air the squad.”

But Henderson, who is a close friend of Sterling’s, believes the Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal target already has the mental strength to deal with the abuse.

“Raheem deals with it (abuse) very well,” he said. “I don’t think he lets that bother him at all. You can see that in his performance — he always wants the ball.

“There will be times when people do give you a hard time. Especially when Raheem is so young, it might be difficult. But he is so strong-minded, and it will make him a stronger person and make him better.

“He will concentrate on doing his best for the team. He did that today, trying to create things and get on the ball all the time. Hopefully he can do the same next week.”

The furore over Sterling distracted from what was a disappointing performance by England, with Hodgson admitting that had slipped below the standards expected.

“We set ourselves high standards and got nowhere near them in the first half,” he said.

“We were marginally better in the second-half, but we were very critical of ourselves.

“We’ve had a good run, a year almost unbeaten, but we came here believing if we played our best football we could win the game.

But we never got close to that. We didn’t lose, but we have to accept — myself and the players — there were a lot of things we could have done better.

“We want to go to France and play teams there, and we’ll have to play better than we did today. Ireland defended exceptionally well and were more than worth the draw.”

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