Sterling, 24, has been left out of England’s EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday after he confronted Liverpool defender Joe Gomez in the players’ canteen, and they had to be separated after Sterling tried to grab Gomez around the neck.
Southgate decided to keep Sterling in the squad and let him train with the rest of the England team, but has punished the Man City winger by making him unavailable for the game on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t imagine that he’s hugely enthusiastic. But I can understand that and in the end he’s with the group,” Southgate said. “He’s a massive part of what we do. He’s with us for the game tomorrow, he’s back with the team on the training pitch enjoying his football. He trained superbly well, as he always does. The thing is finished.”
Southgate added that Sterling will play in England’s final EURO 2020 qualifier at Kosovo on Sunday, with the Three Lions needing just a point from their final two qualifiers to qualify for the tournament.
The punishment for Sterling has divided opinion, with some believing Southgate’s strong stance was warranted as he continues to unify the Three Lions squad but others believe the incident should have been kept in-house.
A bust-up between Sterling and Gomez following the heated battle between Liverpool and Man City 24 hours previous was always going to be leaked out somehow. Southgate seized control of the situation and Sterling was made an example of.
England’s players now know that any squabbling about games they play against one another for their respective clubs is not allowed.
Sterling’s name has been in the news for the wrong reasons once again, but after he attacked a teammate in the England players’ canteen and has since apologized and accepted he was wrong, he can have no complaints.