DOHA, Qatar — England was handed a major boost ahead of its World Cup quarterfinal against France (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App), when winger Raheem Sterling made plans to return to Qatar after a burglary at his family home that is yet to be resolved.
Sterling missed his team's 3-0 victory over Senegal in the round of 16 and was given permission to fly home, amid reports that his property outside London had been attacked by armed intruders, who had stolen a collection of luxury watches.
The Chelsea player is now expected to rejoin his teammates Friday, the Football Association confirmed to multiple outlets, potentially providing another option for coach Gareth Southgate before Saturday's highly anticipated showdown with the reigning World Cup champions at Al-Bayt Stadium.
It is unknown how much of a role Sterling will be able to play, with most British press reports indicating it is unlikely he will start the game. Southgate is schedule to address the media Friday and will surely be questioned on the matter.
There has been some confusion about the exact nature of the burglary in recent days.
While an early statement said Sterling's partner and children had been in the house and the intruders carried weapons, police later reported the family was not present at the time. As of Thursday evening, no arrests had been made.
Sterling's pace and energy could potentially be a valuable asset to Southgate, who must first figure out how to best control French superstar Kylian Mbappe's attacking wizardry, but also formulate an offensive plan aimed at breaking down France's resolute backline.
Having made his England debut in 2012, Sterling has scored 20 international goals in 81 games for his country. At 27, this is his fifth international tournament for the Three Lions. Sterling scored in the team's opening victory over Iran and started the scoreless tie against the United States.
However, with the winner of the England-France game guaranteed to become one of the instant favorites to win the tournament, the coach wants all options at his disposal.
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