Neville slams 'absolutely disgusting' criticism of Man City star by England fans

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The Manchester City forward was castigated in some quarters as missed chances overshadowed a good overall display in the 2-0 win over Sweden.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier has come to the defence of his teammate Raheem Sterling who has been the subject of much criticism before and during this year's World cup in Russian Federation.

Amid the joyous celebrations that have greeted England's run to the semi-finals in Russia, Sterling seems to be acting as a lightning rod - the one player whose contribution splits opinion.

In his second season under Pep Guardiola, Sterling bagged a career-best 23 goals in 46 appearances as Manchester City stormed to the Premier League title.

"So far, England have done what they should have done, against the teams we have played".

"He was a constant threat to Sweden".

'I think he's had a fantastic tournament so far and hopefully that can continue in the next week'.

His understanding of the game is global: he's a guy who can create inside, make a movement outside, dribbling, runs in behind.

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"The way Raheem's handled everything from when we met up until now has been incredible", said Dier.

Southgate has engendered a more open, relaxed environment at national team level, with the players carrying less emotional baggage and playing with more freedom.

Not many teams are, however, as gifted as the current French set-up, but there is no denying that all four teams which made it to the semi-finals in Russian Federation displayed a certain level of tactical aptitude ingrained in their game.

"As I have got older I have become more conscious of that - it is easy to avoid challenges and avoid putting yourself on the line", he said.

"The key is how you respond to failure and react to it".

Sterling is yet to net a goal in the World Cup despite being in the team in four matches out of five and has also been missing goal-scoring opportunities in the tournament on a regular basis.

"If we had England's money, who knows where we'd be in our country?" "If you come into a job like this and look at the possible down sides for sure you don't take it".

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