​​Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he was surprised to see Raheem Sterling keep his place in the England squad for the Three Lions' ​World Cup third place play-off against Belgium, suggesting the forward did not have a good enough tournament to be included.

Sterling started six of England's seven matches in Russia but failed to score a single goal and was often the subject of criticism for his failure to convert chances or provide creative output for Harry Kane.

Belgium v England: 3rd Place Playoff - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Speaking to Russian outlet RT (via the ​Daily Mail), Mourinho said that Sterling should have been replaced by either Jamie Vardy or one of his own Manchester United forwards, Marcus Rashford or Danny Welbeck.

"He didn't have a good enough World Cup to be chosen for a match ahead of Vardy, Welbeck, Rashford – people with probably better condition from a physical and psychological point of view," said Mourinho.


It is now almost three years since Sterling scored for England, with a dismal record of just two goals in 44 international caps. His failure to score at the World Cup comes as something of a surprise after the winger scored 23 goals in 46 appearances for ​Manchester City last season.

Mourinho also criticised England boss Gareth Southgate for playing Jordan Pickford in the play-off match, rather than handing an opportunity to one of England's reserve goalkeepers.

Belgium v England: 3rd Place Playoff - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The Portuguese said: "I think also for a second goalkeeper to feel I didn't even play in the third match of the group phase, I'm not playing in the third vs fourth match, when can I play.

"I think it's quite frustrating for a guy like [Jack] Butland or [Nick] Pope."

Pickford played in every minute of England's World Cup campaign, earning plaudits for his excellent displays in the quarter-finals against Colombia and Sweden.