Gareth Southgate has often told us how they have worked on defusing club rivalries, because it has been a problem with England in the past. Sterling will remain with the squad and one of the things Southgate said was that the emotions from Sunday’s match were still raw and the decision to leave Sterling out has been made with the agreement of the entire squad.
“I love all of my players. We are like a family. The important thing is for a family to communicate and work through problems,” said Southgate.
“I don’t expect as a manager to not have to deal with issues.”
Sterling admitted “emotions got the better of me” during the incident.
“Me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a five to 10 second thing…it’s done, we move forward,” he added in a statement on social media earlier on Tuesday.
The Manchester City forward, who was involved in a previous altercation with Liverpool’s Gomez in his side’s 3-1 Premier League defeat on Sunday, has been dropped for England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday.
Pictures from England’s training ground on Tuesday appeared to show Gomez with a scratch running from his right eye down his cheek, although Southgate refused to say if it was related to the altercation with Sterling.
Southgate did, however, confirm that Sterling was the aggressor in the incident at the team hotel.
“Raheem in his [social media] post last night explained for a very brief moment his emotions ran over. It would be correct to say that’s not the same for Joe,” he added.
At a team meeting on Monday night, Southgate, Sterling and Gomez all spoke as the manager decided on the appropriate action to take.
“In the end I have to find the right solution for the group,” added Southgate.
“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.”
England are already assured of at least a play-off spot to make Euro 2020 after five wins from their opening six matches in their qualification campaign. They need just a point to qualify for the finals automatically.