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Media Watch

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Media Watch: Crouch salutes priceless Sterling

It’s back to work for Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s side resume Premier League action at home to Watford today…

And as such there’s plenty of pre-match talk in this morning’s papers with Hornets star Craig Cathcart revealing the depth of his admiration for Guardiola’s side.

There’s also a fascinating interview with City and England skipper Steph Houghton who talks about her pride at being such a positive role model in the wake of International Women’s Day.

But we start with some high praise indeed for Blues star Raheem Sterling from former England striker Peter Crouch in his weekly Daily Mail column.

And it’s clear that Crouch has become a huge fan of the winger and believes he is not just one of the Blues’ standout performers – but English football’s too.

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Crouch writes “Raheem Sterling has been on my mind since last summer. I watched him closely during the World Cup and felt he would return to the Premier League and do special things.

“I wrote a column about him after England had beaten Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals and while some people were obsessed about the chances he had missed — and I recognised that his finishing needed to be sharper — I asked: ‘Have we not been following his ambition to get better?’

“Well, he’s done that again. Sterling hasn’t just got better, he’s been breathtaking for Manchester City. So much so that England manager Gareth Southgate said this week he should be seriously considered for the PFA Player of the Year award.

“Don’t think that is a manager saying something to keep one of his players onside. “Sterling, without a doubt, is a serious rival to Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Aguero and it is time we celebrated what a special performer he has become.

“You cannot overstate what strength of character and determination has been required to get him into this position.

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“What would he be worth if he was for sale today? Double the £49million City paid for him? You could probably treble it and still not get close to his true value.

“Alongside Harry Kane, Sterling has become England’s most important player and a standout star for Pep Guardiola’s champions.”

Turning to today’s tea-time visit of the Hornets to the Etihad, Watford’s official club website carries an interview with Craig Cathcart who reveals how he and his colleagues are eagerly awaiting stepping out at the home of the league leaders.

 “We want to play against the best teams and Manchester City are definitely one of the best teams in Europe, so we are looking forward to it,” Cathcart told the Hornets official website.

“It's a difficult match but we are full of confidence, we have performed well all season and we pushed them close at home so hopefully we can make it a similar type of game.”

“It's not just the quality they've got, they've got players on the bench that can come on and effect the game as well.

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“You know they are going to have a lot of possession because that's the style of play they have,” said the ex-Manchester United man.

“We have to be 100 per cent concentrated because they only need half a second, half a yard to score a goal. We need to be focused and maybe get a bit of luck at times.”

With the Blues still hit by a number of injuries there's plenty of speculation as to how we will line up and in the Manchester Evening News meanwhile, there’s a punt at a possible City team selection from Daniel Murphy.

Murphy scribes: “With the threat Watford can cause and the importance of leading the table it appears likely that Guardiola will name as strong a side as possible against the Hornets, even with the Champions League last-16 second-leg against Schalke coming up on Tuesday.

“With that in mind and due to several injures, the majority of City's defence could keep their places after the 1-0 victory over Bournemouth last Saturday.

Ederson, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi and Oleks Zinchenko may all start again but there will be at least one change, though it will be enforced.

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John Stones was substituted at half-time at the Vitality Stadium and he has been ruled out of Saturday's game.

Aymeric Laporte returned to training this week, way ahead of schedule and is in contention to return, though it seems unlikely that the Frenchman will be risked so soon after injury.

“If that's the case then captain Vincent Kompany will return to the heart of the defence.

Kevin de Bruyne was also struck with injury against the Cherries, with the Belgian play-maker leaving the pitch in the first half clutching his hamstring and is not available against Watford.

“With Fernandinho also on the sidelines,City's midfield is looking a bit thin but there is still lots of quality. Optimists may hope for Phil Foden to get his first Premier League start but it seems a lot more likely that Bernardo Silva will drop into midfield to play alongside Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva.

“With Bernardo moved out of his wide attacking role there is a free slot to play alongside in form duo Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, who will both surely start.

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Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez will compete for the spot and since the latter scored the winning goal against Bournemouth and will allow Sterling to continue playing on the left side, the Algerian may well get the nod.”

Finally, Sky Sports carries an inspiring interview with Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton who says the thought of being an inspiration to young girls is part of her drive for success with club and country.

Sky Sports reports: “Being a role model is something the Durham-born centre-back is passionate about.

“When asked if knowing she can inspire young girls is an important element of her drive for success, Houghton said: "Yes.

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"My role models were Kevin Phillips and David Beckham and, for me, now girls can look up to female footballers and want to aspire to be them, and try to follow in their footsteps and even be better than us."

“She said: "I think that's mainly because it was never really on television or the radio, and locally there weren't really big games to go and watch. So for me, it was all about watching men's football.

"I'm lucky enough to now be here saying I play for this club (City), I play for England, I'm full-time, I'm able to dedicate my whole time to being the best that I can be for my club and country.

"We get more crowds coming to watch us and our games are on telly a lot more now, which is fantastic for young girls who can't come to the games, so they can watch and be inspired.

"And for us, it is to continue being the role models that we are.”

That’s all for this morning’s Media Watch. Stay with us throughout the day as we bring you coverage of today’s clash at home to Watford.

And don’t forget, you can enjoy live minute-by-minute updates of today’s game with our Matchday Centre.

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