England take on Montenegro in the EURO qualifiers on Thursday and this game will be very important for the Three Lions given their group is so finely balanced.
But unfortunately Raheem Sterling will not be a part of this matchday squad after he was suspended for a bust-up with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez.
The argument between the pair is clearly linked with Liverpool’s win vs Manchester City on Sunday and this unusual incident in the national training camp has clearly shocked everyone else.
While Raheem Sterling is without a doubt a key part of the England squad but Gareth Southgate has put his foot down and by punishing the Man City forward he has managed to set an example for his other players.
Some arguments though have arisen that Southgate has indeed tackled this incident brilliantly but he should have kept it internal instead of making it public.
And now just days before their clash vs Montenegro, the England boss has come out to explain the whole scenario and why he chose to make his punishment public.
“Raheem explained that for a brief moment his emotions ran over,” Southgate told reporters.
“It would be correct to say that’s not the same for Joe. It is important to always be as fair as possible on any decision I make. Quite the number of our senior players have been active in discussions.”
“That is an important process. I am the manager and certain decisions are my responsibility. The group has been very mature in dealing with a difficult situation.
“As emotions calmed yesterday, I am very impressed the players worked through collectively. I had to make some difficult calls — that’s the end of discussion.
“It’s not for me to discuss the details of the incident. In the end, I have to find the right solution for the group. You try to be fair at all times dealing with the players.
“I have made the decision and it was appropriate for moving forward. Raheem is a very important player for us but I feel it was the right. I consult very closely with all of the players, in particular, the senior players. They have a very good understanding of how we have worked over the years. We are a united group and now we have to turn our focus on to the football.”
“We have a hugely important qualifier on Thursday night. We are drawing a line under it and moving forward as a team.”
“I love all of my players. We are a family and all families have disagreements. The most important thing is to work through them.”
“Our focus is now to move forward. It was crucial to me that everyone in the group is ready to move forward. That is why everyone is part of the squad.
“When you have made a decision to not select Raheem it was going to become public. I would rather deal with that now. The decision has been made.”
Raheem Sterling will obviously be missing from the match vs Montenegro but there’s still a chance he might play on Sunday when England take on Kosovo at the Pristina City Stadium.