EXCLUSIVE: Raheem Sterling is stunned by Gareth Southgate’s claim that he’s ‘got the hump’ with the England manager… and is keen not to hold a grudge for his dumping over Joe Gomez bust-up
- Sterling holds no grudges against Southgate for dropping him from the squad
- Man City star is surprised by England manager’s remarks in press conference
- Southgate said he wouldn’t be surprised if Sterling had ‘got the hump’ with him
- It followed decision to drop Sterling from Euro 2020 qualifier with Montenegro
- That came after Sterling’s bust up with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez
Controversy has engulfed the England camp this week after Southgate decided to axe Sterling from the squad for the game against Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday night following his confrontation with team-mate Joe Gomez at St George’s Park on Monday.
Southgate believes his decision will put a strain on his relationship with his most influential player, saying on Wednesday night: ‘Is it fair to say that he’s got the hump with me right now? Well, I wouldn’t imagine that he’s hugely enthusiastic but I can understand.’
Raheem Sterling holds no grudges against England manager Gareth Southgate after being dropped from the squad for Thursday night’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro
Southgate said he wouldn’t be surprised if Sterling had ‘got the hump’ with him
The England boss also admitted his shock decision would likely upset a number of Sterling’s international team-mates.
But Sportsmail understands Sterling has no bad feelings towards Southgate – instead the England star is remaining fully-focused on Sunday’s game in Kosovo – a clash the forward is poised to start.
Sterling has maintained his professionalism throughout the tumultuous week and will not let Southgate’s decision to axe him from the squad for tonight’s game against Montenegro disrupt his aims with England.
The Manchester City star has been somewhat surprised at suggestions that the events of the previous few days would cause any disruption to his focus given his standing as England’s most influential player.
Gomez and Sterling clashed in the canteen of England’s St George’s Park base on Monday
The pair had squared up on the pitch during Liverpool’s game against Manchester City
The pair were both involved in England’s training session at St George’s Park on Wednesday
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)
Nevertheless, Southgate’s handling of the issue will continue to cast doubt over the pair’s relationship moving forward.
And while Sterling, tellingly, now privately believes he has a greater understanding of Southgate’s character – he will not let it impact upon his working relationship with the England boss.
Indeed, the attacker, widely recognised as one of the best players in the world, has been determined not to let his spat with Gomez detract from his own and the team’s focus during his latest spell with England.
Sterling has already moved on from the furore and will not let the issue impact on his international career moving forward.
His sole focus is on Sunday’s clash in Pristina where he is determined to show everyone that the controversy has had no ill-effects on his passion to perform for England.
Indeed, despite the issues that have disrupted England’s preparations for Thursday night’s game – Southgate has heaped praise on Sterling’s focus amid the week’s controversy.
‘His reaction has been brilliant. He spoke to the team really well and he’s trained really well and I can’t fault his reaction at all,’ said the England boss.
‘In terms of how he’s trained and how he’s been around the guys and with us, I’m happy.’
He suggested that the relationship between players and managers always has ups and downs
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