Raheem Sterling is ready to make the most of his attacking versatility as England face up to their crunch FIFA World Cup clash with Uruguay.
Sterling was arguably England's star performer as Italy claimed a keenly contested 2-1 victory in their opening Group D game, deployed in the 'number 10' role behind Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge.
A right-winger by trade, it was a role the 19-year-old excelled in as the Merseyside club took the Premier League title race to the wire, and he was similarly effective in national colours.
"I just had to take it in my stride," he said of his major tournament debut.
"It's been a new position that the manager at Liverpool (Brendan Rodgers) has tried to do with me and something I try to learn every day in training.
"To play at this level you need to play in numerous positions. I wasn't really nervous, just trying to help my team as best as possible to either create something or try and win the game. We were unlucky not to win."
Roy Hodgson's decision to select Sterling in-field against Italy was largely responsible for Wayne Rooney taking on an unfamiliar wide-left role.
Despite laying on Sturridge's first-half equaliser in Manaus from that flank, the Manchester United forward's patchy display has come in for both widespread media scrutiny and staunch defence from those within the England camp.
With Sturridge expected to shake off the dead leg that hindered him in the closing stages against Italy and resume central striking duties on Thursday, Sterling moving to the right and the similarly impressive Danny Welbeck switching wings to the left would appear the most likely way for Hodgson to hand Rooney the central role he craves.
There will be no such debate over Uruguay's most effective attacking formation if Sterling and Sturridge's club-mate Luis Suarez is passed fit following his recovery from minor knee surgery.
Coach Oscar Tabarez has threatened to ring the changes following his team's shock 3-1 loss to Costa Rica - a game Suarez sat out - and the English PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year is expected to return for the must-win clash.
Suarez’s Liverpool colleague Sebastian Coates is one of those who could benefit from a Tabarez overhaul.
The centre-back rates his three English colleagues highly but believes, in Suarez, Uruguay hold the jewel in the crown.
Coates told the Guardian: "Sterling is extremely quick, he goes outside defenders, takes them on, makes things happen and looks to put the ball in the box.
"Sturridge is similar to Luis: he's always looking to score, always trying to force the mistake and take advantage. He has a lot of technical ability and when he’s one-on-one it is difficult to stop him.
"They have two of the three but hopefully Luis can show that we have the best of the three."
Uruguay will be without Coates' fellow defender Maxi Pereira following his late red card in the Costa Rica match.
|9||L. Suárez||39' 85'|
|Coach: Ó. Tabárez|
for N. Lodeiro 67'
for Á. González 79'
for L. Suárez 88'
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