Wednesday 28 September 2016

Sterling backed to handle flak

Published 10/08/2015 | 04:38

Raheem Sterling is poised to make his Manchester City debut
Raheem Sterling is poised to make his Manchester City debut

Raheem Sterling is tough enough to handle any crowd abuse this season, according to new Manchester City team-mate Fernandinho.

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England forward Sterling will be the main focus of attention as he makes his City debut in their Barclays Premier League opener at West Brom on Monday night.

Sterling joined City from Liverpool in an acrimonious £49million transfer over the summer that attracted much negative publicity.

The 20-year-old's reputation has suffered considerably and in recent months he has been booed on England duty and during City pre-season games.

That could spill over into the season but midfielder Fernandinho believes he will take it in his stride.

The Brazilian said: "I think he is a strong character with the right personality. I remember seeing him in an interview talking about his determination to win trophies and I'm sure he will be able to manage the situation."

City's other high-profile summer recruit, Fabian Delph, is unavailable for the opening weeks of the season because of injury but Fernandinho is convinced the squad is stronger for the arrival of the pair.

Fernandinho expects to make a stronger challenge after last season's distant second-placed finish to Chelsea and also wants to make a bigger impact in the Champions League.

The 30-year-old said: "I believe the squad is strong enough to fight for both trophies and I feel very enthusiastic about our chances this season, especially in the Champions League. It is going to be my third season in the competition and (winning it) is something that motivates me."

The trip to Tony Pulis' West Brom, followed by next week's clash with champions Chelsea, makes for a potentially tricky opening to the season for City.

Fernandinho said: "It is a tough start against tough teams, especially the Chelsea game, but we have worked very hard during the week and our objective is to start with six points to start the Premier League in a good way."

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