Raheem Sterling set to captain England against the Netherlands

Sterling to receive huge honour on 50th cap

The time has finally come, with the UEFA Nations League kicking off in Portugal on Wednesday evening. The hosts take on Switzerland in the tournaments opener, with the winners going through to face one of the Netherlands or England in Sunday's final.

It promises to be a historic week, with this the first edition of this competition so the winner will put their name in the record books. England come into it as joint favourites (7/4 @ SkyBet) with hosts Portugal and fans back home are confident that Gareth Southgate & co can build on the excellent foundations they created in Russia last summer, when they reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The positivity and togetherness in the England camp is the best that we've seen for some time, so naturally we're all getting very excited about what could unfold in Portugal over the next few days.

But before we can get carried away with England going all the way, we have the small matter of the Netherlands to come on Thursday night, a game which the Three Lions must win in order to make it through to the final.

Much like Southgate, his opposite number Ronald Koeman is blessed with a number of exciting young players so it should make for some game in Guimaraes, hopefully resulting in the Three Lions doing the business.

It promises to a memorable night for a number of reasons but one man in particular is going to relish the return of international football more than most. Manchester City & PFA Young Player of the Year Award winner Raheem Sterling is reportedly going to be handed the captains armband for this encounter, on the occasion of his 50th cap.

Raheem Sterling Gareth Southgate England
Gareth Southgate has managed to get Raheem Sterling to replicate his superb Manchester City form in an England shirt, becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet

The 24 year-old enters the Nations League on the back of his most productive season yet, netting 26 goals in all competitions for Manchester City, playing a starring role in Pep Guardiola's men becoming the first English club to complete a domestic treble.

Sterling's influence at both club and international level is always growing, with him now one of the most respected players in the game following the tremendous work he's done in the fight against racism.

He's become a role model for fellow professionals, youngsters and aspiring footballers around the country. So he's certainly a worthy recipient of the captains armband for this huge game.

He may not be the most vocal player on the pitch when you compare him to some of his teammates, but he's certainly a player who leads by example.

He's netted 6 goals in his last 5 appearances for the Three Lions which includes a hat-trick in their 5-1 win over the Czech Republic back in March, proving that England don't just have to rely on a certain Mr Kane when it comes to hitting the back of the net.

The Nations League wasn't too popular when it was first announced but with England now in with a fantastic opportunity to end their silverware drought which still dates back to THAT win in 1966, fans are getting genuinely excited.

Come on lads, bring it home...


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