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Raheem Sterling relishing England’s “massive” opportunity

Raheem Sterling
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Raheem Sterling reckons Nations League glory for England will give them the confidence to challenge for Euro 2020 and the World Cup.

Sterling will likely start in England’s Nations League semi-final clash with the Netherlands on Thursday. The victor will then meet either hosts Portugal or Switzerland in the final at Porto.

But the pressure will be on Gareth Southgate’s men to deliver this summer, with England having failed to win a major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

The Three Lions have since reached two World Cup and European championship semi-finals each in the last 53 years.

However, Sterling reckons England have a golden opportunity to end their long-wait in winning the Nations League.

“Winning the Nations League Finals would give the team a lot of confidence,” the Manchester City winger told UEFA.com.

“If you can win this, then when you do play later in the European Championships and the World Cup, it does give you positivity because you’ve been there already with your national team.

“Once the first trophy comes, it’ll feel a bit easier and not as pressured to do it again.

“The games against the best teams and the best players are the games that mean a lot more to us because then we know where we’re at.

“To keep developing we are going to have to play these teams more often because when you get to finals and semi-finals, those are the teams you are going to be playing.

“So, the more we get used to winning games like that, the more confident we’ll be as a group when we do come to those situations in bigger tournaments.

“It won’t be easy but at the same time we’ve beaten the Netherlands already [in March 2018] and played some good football at times, and it’s possible again. I think it’s a massive stepping stone for us.”

The England and Holland match will take place in Guimaraes on Thursday, with kick-off set for 20:45 (CET).

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND – MAY 28: England players and staff look on from the bench during an England training session at St Georges Park on May 28, 2019 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)