Potter defends misfiring Chelsea star Sterling

AFP , Tuesday 8 Nov 2022

Chelsea boss Graham Potter insists Raheem Sterling will overcome his poor form ahead of the World Cup because the England winger has already proved his quality at the highest level.

Chelsea s English head coach Graham Potter attends a team training session at Chelsea s Cobham train
Chelsea s English head coach Graham Potter attends a team training session at Chelsea s Cobham training facility in Stoke D Abernon, southwest of London on November 1, 2022, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League group E football match against Dinamo Zagreb. AFP

Sterling has struggled since joining Chelsea from Manchester City in the close-season.

The 27-year-old has scored just twice since Potter's arrival on September 8 to replace the sacked Thomas Tuchel, with his latest lacklustre display coming in Chelsea’s limp 1-0 loss to Arsenal on Sunday.

Despite his prolonged dip, Sterling is still expected to be a key figure for Gareth Southgate's team when the World Cup gets underway in Qatar in two weeks.

Potter is confident Sterling's track record will ensure he returns to his best sooner rather than later.

"You can tell by his reaction he is honest," Potter said ahead of Chelsea's League Cup third round tie at Manchester City on Wednesday.

"Players go through moments in their career when it isn't so positive and sometimes everything they touch is gold.

"I don't think you can zoom in to the individual. The team is not functioning as I would like.

"That has an impact on the individuals and Raheem is an individual within the team. The work for us is to try to improve the team and the structures.

"I have no doubts about Raheem's quality and ability. He is a proven top player."

Sterling scored three times for Chelsea before Potter took charge, but his last Premier League goal came against Southampton on August 30.

Chelsea have lost their last two league games, their first defeats under Potter, and have not won in four top-flight matches.

The Blues' slump has left them languishing 13 points behind leaders Arsenal, with even a top-four finish far from certain as the pressure mounts on former Brighton boss Potter.

"It's been a tough period. Lots of things happening, lots of transition, lots of change," Potter said.

"New faces in the dressing room, new faces everywhere. Trying to get it all to gel, settle down and develop a playing style.

"We've got a lot of work to do in terms of that. But that's why we came here, to produce a top team."

Meanwhile, Potter refused to put a timescale on England right-back Reece James' recovery from a knee injury suffered last month.

James has not given up hope of being fit to play some part in the World Cup, and Potter said the defender was "outside today having a little jog".

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