Pep Guardiola has admitted that Raheem Sterling has fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City – but is convinced he is good enough to win his place back.
Amid a season where he has struggled to show his best form, Sterling has been dropped to the bench for a number of important games recently, with the likes of Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez starting ahead of him.
It remains to be seen whether or not Sterling will have a part to play in City's Carabao Cup final against Tottenham on Sunday, but speaking ahead of the game Guardiola insisted he still has faith in the England star.
"Raheem is an extraordinary player – he was, is and will be," Guardiola said.
"The reason why he has not played as regularly as in previous seasons is because Phil and Riyad are in top, top form. That is the only reason, but opportunities are going to come and he has to be ready to show his quality, freshness in his mind and to play with the incredible strength he has."
Guardiola was also asked about whether he feels Sterling's lack of action may hinder his chances of starting for England in this summer's European Championships.
And he added: "What happens with the international manager, I'm not involved, but I want the incredible players I have here to go in their national teams, absolutely.
"Him, Nathan (Ake), Eric (Garcia), John (Stones) – all the players who are here. It is a fantastic event to play in, the Euros.
"The quality is there and it is not a conversation where he doesn't have confidence. After talking with me, he has confidence. Top-class players have to take the confidence for themselves to say, 'I'm going to show what I am'. It's the only secret."
City will be looking to win their fourth Carabao Cup in a row when they take on Spurs at Wembley, but may well have one eye on Wednesday's huge Champions League semi-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
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