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Southgate drops Sterling for Montenegro

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After a training ground dispute between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez, England manager Gareth Southgate announced that he has dropped Sterling for England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday evening.

Tempers flared between Gomez and Sterling during Sunday’s clash between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield where the two players went face-to-face after Gomez pushed Sterling in retaliation to Sterling barging into Gomez. The incident on the pitch was understandable considering the importance of the game and that Sterling would naturally have been frustrated that City were in danger of dropping 9 points behind their title rivals.

The tension between Sterling and Gomez continued into Monday when the players arrived at the England camp for international duty after they were involved in an argument in the St George’s Park canteen. The incident prompted Sterling’s withdrawal from the squad to face Montenegro at Wembley, with the FA describing the incident as a “disturbance in a private team area”.

“We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday.”, said manager Gareth Southgate.

Southgate added, “One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw.”

Sterling’s response

Sterling took to Instagram to respond to the incident, as he posted the following story:

“First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me! Everyone knows that I am not that way inclined and more to the point. Both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on. We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me. We move this is why we play this sport because of our love for it - me and @joegomez are good we both understand it was a 5-10 second thing it’s done we move forward and not make this bigger than it is. Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday.”

Southgate’s decision to remove Sterling from Thursday’s squad has been mainly met with approval from people, with people applauding him for his firm stance and no-nonsense attitude to the incident.

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol said, “Gareth Southgate has been firm but fair. The last thing he wants is for cliques to appear in his squad like the days when Manchester United and Liverpool players used to eat at separate tables.”

There have been other opinions that as one of England’s most inform players, Sterling will be a big miss from the game and shouldn't have been excluded from the squad. But considering that Thursday’s opponent Montenegro have yet to win a single Euro 2020 qualifying game, England can most likely afford to play the game and get a result without Sterling.