Gareth Southgate faces the media and defends his decision to axe Raheem Sterling over canteen clash… but refuses to answer ANY key questions over the fracas (and says the pair ARE talking again)
- Gareth Southgate refused to offer more details on bust-up at training camp
- Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez involved in a confrontation on Monday
- Man City player has been dropped from England squad for Montenegro match
- Southgate defended his decision to drop Sterling but offer no fresh details
- He confirmed that senior squad members acted as peace brokers
Gareth Southgate has defended his decision to drop Raheem Sterling from the England squad for Thursday’s match with Montenegro, saying it was the ‘right thing for the group’ but refused to go into detail about his confrontation with Joe Gomez.
Sterling was dropped from the squad for the Euro 2020 qualifier at Wembley after a bust-up with Liverpool defender Gomez in the players’ canteen at St George’s Park on Monday.
It followed an on-field incident between Sterling and Gomez during the Premier League fixture between Liverpool and Manchester City on Sunday.
England manager Gareth Southgate has defended his decision to drop Raheem Sterling from the squad to face Montenegro on Thursday following his bust-up with Joe Gomez
Southgate refused to go into additional detail about the incident involving Sterling and Gomez
The England boss confirmed the two players are speaking with one another again but clammed up when asked for further details about their argument.
Southgate was keen to move on from the issue but said that he believed the decision to cut Sterling from the Wembley match was the correct one.
He said: ‘You have to find a way for the group to move forward. We needed emotions across the board to calm down.
‘My priority is always the care and well-being of all of my players. Then you have a decision to make on whether there is something further and the right thing for the group moving forward and that was my decision not to select Raheem.’
Gomez and Sterling appeared to be in better spirits as England trained on Tuesday
The smiles were in marked contrast to their bust-up at Anfield on Sunday and inside the England camp on Monday
Southgate confirmed that senior players within the England camp did intervene to mediate, including, as Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday morning, the Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
‘We have excellent senior players who have played a part in bringing everyone together,’ he said.
However, the England boss wasn’t willing to go into too much detail about the exact circumstances of the Sterling-Gomez disagreement.
‘The reality is that I am not prepared to go into detail about the incident. There is enough conjecture and talk out there. We dealt with it as a group and we move forward,’ he added.
Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez were involved in a bust-up once again during England training
The England team-mates clashed late on during Liverpool’s victory over Manchester City
Sterling and Gomez confronted each other as tensions boiled over at Anfield on Sunday
England’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores
March 22 Czech Republic (H) 5-0
March 25 Montenegro (A) 5-1
September 7 Bulgaria (H) 4-0
September 10 Kosovo (H) 5-3
October 11 Czech Republic (A) 1-2
October 14 Bulgaria (A) 6-0
November 14 Montenegro (H)
November 17 Kosovo (A)
He also reasserted that Sterling, who will return to the squad and likely the starting line-up for Sunday’s concluding Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo, is a ‘very important’ part of his plans.
‘It is not for me to discuss the details of the incident, there is nothing to be gained from that.
‘In the end I have to find the right solution for the group. That’s a difficult line, you try to be fair when dealing with all players. I won’t always get that right but I am the manager.
‘Raheem is very important for us but I felt it was the right thing.
‘I love all of my players. We are like a family and all families have disagreements. The important thing is for a family to communicate and work through problems. I don’t expect as a manager to not have to deal with issues, that’s part of the job.
‘Our focus is now on moving forward.’
Southgate oversees England’s training session at St George’s Park on Tuesday afternoon
It came as the rest of the England squad were left shocked by the decision to axe Sterling from Thursday night’s game.
Sportsmail understands that members of the squad feel there has been an over-reaction and the incident should have been kept in house.
Liverpool played a key role in brokering peace between the team-mates. Reds skipper Jordan Henderson – who will meet up later with the squad as he is suspended for the game against Montenegro – is believed to have spoken to the duo by phone.
Henderson has also volunteered to go to St George’s Park on Tuesday to see his Liverpool team-mate – who was left with a scratch under his right eye after the incident – and also Sterling.
Sterling left St George’s Park with Southgate’s permission to cool off following the incident and was then allowed to return to the camp.
Have something to say? Leave a comment: