Raheem Sterling remains in contention for a starting place in England's opening match of the World Cup next Saturday, despite the red card he received during a friendly with Ecuador earlier this week.

The Liverpool forward, one of six Reds in the squad, was introduced during the second half in Miami on Wednesday but was dismissed shortly after for a sliding challenge on Antonio Valencia.

His sending-off has no bearing on participation at the tournament in Brazil, although the 19-year-old is now ineligible for the Three Lions' final warm-up encounter, against Honduras, on Saturday night.

That has not stopped Sterling from impressing in training, however; and on the eve of the game, Roy Hodgson explained why the 'exceptional talent' could still face Italy on June 14.

"He was absolutely gutted to be sent off, as were we, but he doesn't seem to have taken it to heart," explained the England manager.

"The most important thing is he's still making me aware he's a player who can inflict an awful lot of damage on the opposition. His reaction to the red card has been excellent.

"He was unstoppable at times in training, some of the things he did out there were breathtaking and he's not going to lose any fitness.

"The dilemma I have is that I have more than 11 players capable of taking the field against Italy but I don't need to see a performance from Raheem on the field to know he's capable of playing in the Italy game if selected.

"He is an exceptional talent - along with our other exceptional talents - and what happened on Wednesday wouldn't stop me. We've spoken about it. It happened.

"The blow is he can't play against Honduras when I'd like to have seen him play. That was a blow to my plans but it doesn't affect his chances of playing when the tournament starts."