Incoming Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has contacted Raheem Sterling to assure him that he has a big future at the club, according to reports.
The England forward has been the subject of plenty of criticism after his disappointing performances in the Euro 2016 opening games against Russia and Wales.
And Roy Hodgson’s coaching staff have said they are concerned about the state of Sterling’s mind with his confidence apparently dented following criticism from pundits and fans and on social media.
However, Guardiola contacted him to give him a morale boost following the Wales game, in which Sterling was substituted at half-time.
“Pep told Raheem, ‘As long as you work for me, I will fight for you,'” said reports in England citing a source close to Sterling.
“He said, ‘Keep your head up. Don’t worry. I know you are a good player and you are a big part of my plans.'”
Sterling joined City last summer following a protracted and acrimonious departure from Liverpool that saw him become an unpopular figure in the Premier League, with fans booing him at almost every away ground last season.
After a decent start at City, his form tailed off in the later months — and he started just two of the last 16 games of the season.
The 21-year-old’s performances echoed City as they struggled to secure a Champions League place after Manuel Pellegrini announced his departure to make way for Guardiola.
However, it is reported that Sterling — along with Kevin De Bruyne– are the City players that the former Bayern Munich boss is most excited about working with.
Sterling is in the squad for England’s last-16 clash with Iceland on Monday, although he is not expected to start following Hodgson’s concern over his confidence.