Sterling will bounce back from early England sub - Southgate

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Raheem Sterling has got the character to bounce back from his England disappointment against Malta and make an important contribution in World Cup qualifying, says Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions laboured in the opening 45 minutes in Valletta on Friday and Sterling was substituted at half time as Southgate looked to add more attacking threat.

Marcus Rashford came off the bench to replace the Manchester City star, capping a turbulent week for Sterling after he scored the winner against Bournemouth before being sent off for his celebration.

Despite his tough seven days Southgate is confident Sterling is mentally strong enough to deal with the disappointment and come back stronger.

"Look, he's a lad we love," the England manager said. "Of course it's difficult [to be substituted] but he took it really professionally.

"He is a player we have a lot of time for. He's really ballsy.

"As a creative player, some days everything you do works and some days it [doesn't].

"It is much harder to be a creative player than the lump that I was because I was just stopping people and that's much easier.

"To go and beat people, and to beat people in tight spaces, some days that happens and some days it doesn't.

"In the first half, it was the latter for Raheem but he will bounce back from that.

"He has bounced back from things throughout his career, so I've no doubt in my mind that he'll cope with that."