By Noel Whelan

16th Sep, 2022 | 3:24pm

Pundit on new Raheem Sterling role after 'huge' Chelsea reveal

Noel Whelan has insisted Raheem Sterling’s new role at Chelsea will not prevent him from being effective inside the 18-yard box.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 27-year-old is “not afraid of doing the hard graft” in a left wing-back berth.

Sterling scored the opener for Chelsea in a 1-1 Champions League draw against RB Salzburg on Wednesday (14 September) despite being deployed in a more conservative role by new boss Graham Potter.

The former Man City star, who cost the Blues a reported £50million in the summer window, had been operating in a false nine role for sacked boss Thomas Tuchel.

Speaking after the Salzburg game to club media, Sterling insisted he “enjoyed” playing in his new role – and reassured fans that he will “get better over time”.

Whelan insisted the England superstar is a “team player” and suggested he is up to the task.

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He told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “He got a goal, so it’s difficult to pass judgement on Graham Potter’s plans for Sterling.

“I don’t think he would have given Sterling the responsibility if he felt he wasn’t capable. He’s got himself a goal.

“I’m sure Raheem Sterling won’t mind where he plays as long as he’s on the field and contributing.

“If it means doing more work going backwards, I’m sure he’s not afraid of doing the hard graft. He seems like a team player and I’m not sure it’s a huge deal.

“It certainly won’t stop him getting into the right areas and scoring goals for Chelsea.

“At the end of the day, he’d prefer to be in the starting lineup than not.”

In other news, expert claims N’Golo Kante may now push for Chelsea exit after “huge” talks update.