England vs. Montenegro
- What: Euro 2020 qualifying group A
- When: Thursday 14 November
- Where: Wembley Stadium, London
- Kick-off: 7.45pm (GMT)
- TV coverage: live on ITV
Gareth Southgate is spreading the love among his England squad as he looks to put Monday’s canteen clash between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez behind him.
Sterling has been dropped from the squad for tomorrow’s game against Montenegro after the Manchester City striker admitted that “emotions got the better of me”.
Asked about how he was dealing with the incident, Southgate told reporters: “I love all of my players. We are like a family. The important thing is for a family to communicate and work through problems.”
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Gomez was spotted at training yesterday with a small scar below his eye suggesting that the altercation had been minor. Nonetheless Southgate explained that he felt compelled to sanction Sterling as the aggressor.
“Raheem in his [social media] post last night explained for a very brief moment his emotions ran over,” Southgate added. “It would be correct to say that’s not the same for Joe.
“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.”
One of the players, Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell, said that the Three Lions head coach had kept the squad fully briefed about the spat and invited their feedback.
“Gareth spoke about the situation and spoke about what he thought, and he also wanted to know what we thought about it,” said Chilwell. “Gareth didn’t want to make a decision himself, he was keen we came to the right decision with the leadership group.
“It got spoken about between the leadership group and Gareth. The decision has been made and we’re all very on board with that.”
Chilwell added that Sterling and Gomez had also been involved in the decision-making process.
“Joe and Raheem got the chance to talk, which they both wanted to do,” Chilwell added. “For Raheem, he wanted to apologise and Joe wanted to get stuff off his chest as well. That was it done then… since then it’s not been spoken of. It got squashed.”
Have a pop idol
Sterling is expected to be replaced in the England XI by Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who made clear that the Man City frontman remains his inspiration despite losing his cool in the canteen.
“Raheem is like an idol to me,” said Hudson-Odoi. “The position he plays, and what he’s doing for club and country, is an amazing thing, which I will try to replicate myself.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have someone like him doing what he’s doing and being around you every time. I want to keep learning off what he does.”
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