Ex-Pompey forward Paul Merson feels England's World Cup chances rest on Raheem Sterling
Former Pompey forward Paul Merson believes England's World Cup hopes hinge on Raheem Sterling.
The ex-Fratton favourite feels the Three Lions have a chance of winning the tournament - but insists the Manchester City man 'has to click' in Russia.
Gareth Southgate's side face Tunisia in their World Cup curtain-raiser on Monday.
Sterling is reportedly set to start in a striking role for England alongside captain Harry Kane in a 3-5-2 formation.
And Merson, who played an instrumental role when Pompey won the Division One title in 2003, reckons the former Liverpool talent is key to the Three Lions' chances of capturing Jules Rimet for the first time since 1966.
Speaking at mobile network Three's #ThreeWallBall event at the company's Commercial Road store, he said: 'If England are going to do anything then Sterling has to click.
'If Sterling clicks then England have got a chance - and I mean that.
'I know at the moment he can't hit a barn door but who would have thought (Salvatore) Schillaci, Roger Miller and Paolo Rossi would have clicked?
'They did and I think it might be Sterling for England.'
England have been drawn against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G.
Realistically, they are competing with the latter for top spot.
If Southgate's troops win their pool, they could go on to face Brazil in the quarter-finals.
However, if the Three Lions finish behind Roberto Martinez's Belgium, they may face holders Germany in the last eight.
That is the route Merson would rather take.
He believes Brazil are 'head and shoulders' above the rest and feels Germany are over-rated.
Merson, who featured for England at France 98, added: 'I don't think it is a good World Cup if I'm being honest.
'Brazil are head and shoulders above everybody.
'It all depends which way we go when we come out of the group.
'If we go the Brazil way in the quarter-finals then we don't beat Brazil.
'But if we go the other way then I think we will beat Germany.
'I don't think Germany are that good. People are probably saying (Leroy) Sane isn't in the team so they must be decent - it doesn't work like that.
'We have a chance. The problem is we are a young team and that means consistency levels are high and low.
'We saw that in the Nigeria game. That's inconsistency but I believe we have got a chance.'