Joey Barton takes swipe at "really weak" Raheem Sterling

England winger has been a magnet for criticism at Euro 2016 so far

Raheem Sterling, England

Picture by: Nick Potts / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Joey Barton has not held back in his criticism of England winger Raheem Sterling as the Manchester City player struggles to make an impact at Euro 2016.

Sterling is expected to return to England's starting line-up for the Round of 16 clash against Iceland this evening but has failed to shine so far, under-performing in the group games against Russia and Wales.

Writing in his L'Equipe column, one-time England cap and ex-Marseille midfielder Barton questioned the players inclusion in the squad.

"Raheem Sterling has been poor for two years now. Unfortunately, he has not been coached well enough. If you take away his pace, he is really weak, very limited technically," he said.

"With his final ball, he is imprecise or clumsy. Without his pace, would he be a professional? If he weren't so quick, he would not be apt to do the job. And to think he cost £50m!"

Barton, who recently signed for Rangers, also added that he is "really perplexed to see[Sterling] in the national team after the season he has had. With France, Germany, Belgium or Spain, he would never be picked."

However, before Barton made his comments, England captain Wayne Rooney had been supportive of Sterling amid concerns that social media criticism towards him may be having a negative effect on confidence.

The Manchester United captain said: "He works hard, he stays behind after training doing what he normally does on a normal training day. No there's no difference in him and he's a huge asset to us as a team because he's a fantastic player. He's a player who can turn a game in a split second. So if anyone is questioning his attitude or his state of mind then they'd be mistaken in that judgement about him."