England coach Gareth Southgate has said he Raheem Sterling has matured. Photo: Lee Smith/Reuters

Gareth Southgate believes Raheem Sterling has the hallmarks of a future England captain.

Sterling will start for England tonight off the back of a brilliant hat-trick against the Czech Republic on Friday.

The Manchester City forward’s influence within the international set-up has grown significantly under Southgate, so much so that the manager has promoted the 24-year-old to the squad’s leadership group alongside current captain Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson.

And the England boss feels Sterling has all the attributes to lead the national team one day.

‘We’ve had three or four players captaining the team and Raheem is developing lots of the qualities those guys have,’ said Southgate.

‘It’s difficult to talk about a potential captain when the current captain is in the hotel, but he’s shown some outstanding personal qualities.

‘I decided to promote him into the leadership group in between November and March, observing his maturity and influence. I felt that would be a good step for him.

‘When you speak to other young players, he’s one of the first they speak about making them feel really comfortable in the environment. That was a really important move for him. I expect all the players, even the younger ones, to show leadership in their own way, but to have the older ones setting the example in those tense moments.’

On Sterling’s scoring form, Southgate added: ‘For me, the biggest thing is he’s in such a confident mood, he’s finishing without thinking. He’s in flow and for any sportsman that’s a great place to be. You want to play without thinking. As soon as you think about what you’re going to do, you hesitate.’

Daily Mail