England chief tips Raheem Sterling to challenge for the best in the world tag ahead of Canaries’ visit
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Norwich City must try and thwart one of the hottest properties in Europe this weekend in Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling - in the view of his England boss Gareth Southgate.
Sterling has been in prolific goalscoring form for club and country this season, and notched his eighth in seven appearances during the midweek 5-3 Euro2020 qualifying win over Kosovo.
The 24-year-old will head to Carrow Road this weekend vying for top spot in the Premier League goal charts with Teemu Pukki.
Southgate is convinced Sterling can get even better and challenge to be the best player in the world.
"Well, in terms of can he fulfil it, it's a bit like I talked about Harry (Kane) the other day (about breaking the England scoring record) - he'll give himself every chance of doing that," said the Three Lions' boss. "There are obviously some outstanding players around, the (Eden) Hazards, the (Kevin) De Bruynes.
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"But he will give himself every chance, because he's got the drive, he's got the professionalism, he's got the ability, he's strong, he's physically and mentally strong for such a small-statured lad.
"He's just a player that's playing full of confidence, wants to be involved in everything, showing real maturity around the camp.
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"I think that he is becoming a big influence with some of the other leaders in terms of how we do things.
"And for me it's lovely to see the shift in the public opinion of him. We have always picked him. There have been times where he has not played well and we have taken him off and that has been the right thing, but he has always been integral to the way we want to play. But his performance is at the highest level we've had since we have been with him, really."
Sterling underlined he is crucial to England's chances of success with influential displays against Bulgaria and Kosovo over the recent international break.
"There are moments where the team were ahead by three or four and it's possible to look outstanding, but in both games, at 0-0, at 1-0 down, at key moments of the game, he's just grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck," said Southgate.
"When there was no space at Wembley, he was the one that was able to open things up, so I couldn't speak highly enough of the quality of his performance."
The Canaries did manage to subdue Sterling on his last visit to Carrow Road in a 0-0 Premier League meeting in March 2016. But the England flyer did help the Citizens' to a 3-0 FA Cup win and a 2-1 home league victory earlier that same season.