Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs has defended Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling, suggesting young players have the right to exercise caution in protecting their career.
The 19-year-old was criticised for asking to be rested for England's Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia on Sunday, later tweeting "excuse me for being human" in his defence.
During the Estonia match, Sterling came off the substitute's bench and won the free kick that led to Wayne Rooney's winning goal. However, his request for rest - revealed by manager Roy Hodgson after the game - has divided opinion on the Liverpool star.
But Giggs, who like Sterling was a first team regular by his late teens, has warned that the 'short career' of the footballer should allow for England, Liverpool, and Sterling to handle the situation carefully.
"It's tough when you are a young player, and he is an explosive player," Giggs said.
"He is a player who is exciting and a player you would go and pay to watch. Of course, he is at Liverpool who are obviously our biggest rivals. He is a talented player. You have to be careful when you are a young player – it is a short career."
Sterling has already featured 14 times for club and country this season having also played an integral role in Liverpool's title charge last term.
Former Reds stalwart and television pundit Jamie Carragher is one of the increasing number of ex-pros to leap to the player's defence, warning his former club of the troubles their previous prodigies ran into as a result of playing too much, too soon.
"I've mentioned it myself, that we've got to be careful with Raheem Sterling burning out," Carragher wrote for Sky Sports.
"You think of players in the past - I played with two of the best young players you'll ever see in Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. They had a lot of injuries when they got to 23, 24, and a lot of it comes from too much football.
"So it's not the worst thing in the world, I just think the Englishman on the street doesn't understand someone saying they don't want to play.
"If he keeps playing and playing he may pick up injuries – maybe he's being clever and looking after himself in terms of his well-being in the future, and it's important he doesn't suffer burnout."