Sterling, Alli say England shouldn't settle for second best in Russian Federation

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Sterling said the "unfinished" tattoo references the shooting of his father who was gunned down in Jamaica when the Manchester City striker was just two years of age.

"That's exciting football and we all want to play that way anyway".

The 23-year-old lined up in attack with Harry Kane at Wembley, where he wasted a couple of good chances to score to leave his global record at just two goals in 38 games.

Even for a player that has grown up in the spotlight, the past week must have felt intense for the 23-year-old.

Adding to Sterling's woes, he was forced to apologise to his team-mates after turning up to England's training camp a day late following a flight mix-up on his way back from holiday and was then booked for diving in Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Nigeria. The only thing that changed was I was in the newspapers a bit more.

"I know I shouldn't mention it but I've got a tattoo of it on my arm", he added. I spoke with my mum and she was OK. "I've had training sessions every day so my mind was already occupied, so that was the least of my worries", he said.

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"It's obviously bad to see yourself spoken of in that light, but it's not something that gets me down".

England manager Gareth Southgate and Sterling's teammates have spoken publicly in support of the player since the emergence of pictures of his tattoo set in motion the week-long scrutiny of his actions.

Sterling was part of the England sides that crashed out at the group stages four years ago and exited in humiliating fashion to Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

"I expect the group, the team, to show their real character", he said.

"No, it won't be good enough at all, because you want to win it", Sterling said at England's pre-tournament media day.

"We have to prove to ourselves - we are excited, we have a strong team and there is a lot of belief we can achieve something great within the squad".

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"So, it's a lot of positives to take from that and a lot of positives to build on as well". "I said before that there's no point coming if you don't think about winning it". We want to have the mentality to win it and I feel everyone here has to have that and we do.

"We're starting to control games better, which was a big issue for us, and these little things we're putting in place will only do us well in this tournament. But the goals will come, and I am sure of that".

The squad have 12 days until their opening game against Tunisia on June 18, with a final warm-up match against Costa Rica to come at Elland Road on Thursday.

A brief break follows the final friendly before an internal game and the squad jetting off to Russian Federation on June 12.

"Prepare right and when that moment comes that you are ready".

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