Raheem Sterling has been dropped by Gareth Southgate for England’s European Qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday after a row with Joe Gomez at St George’s Park – for which he has apologised.
The Manchester City winger is understood to have taken offence to Gomez laughing with several other England team-mates in the training ground canteen before asking “you think you’re the big man now?” – and then trying to grab the Liverpool defender round the neck.
The two were separated by team-mates and Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson then mediated via telephone in a meeting between the pair in one of their bedrooms, where Sterling apologised and they agreed to put the matter behind them.
In a statement, England manager Gareth Southgate said “emotions were still raw” after Sterling was involved in a clash with Gomez towards the end of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Premier League title rivals Manchester City on Sunday and he had “taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro”.
Gomez is understood to have issued a personal plea to Southgate not to send Sterling home from the England base.
The 24-year-old will remain with the team this week but watch the match at Wembley from the sidelines, despite an apologetic address on social media about what had happened between them.
“First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me,” Sterling said. “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 Joe Gomez 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.”
England play Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday before facing Kosovo away on Sunday, knowing just a point from the two games will be enough to see them qualify for Euro 2020.