England vs Montenegro: Raheem Sterling set for Kosovo return after ‘brilliant’ response, says Gareth Southgate

The Manchester City forward has been dropped for England’s 1,000th fixture after an altercation with Joe Gomez

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Wednesday 13 November 2019 19:37
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Gareth Souhgate: Emotions ran high during Sterling and Gomez clash

Raheem Sterling will be back in contention to start for England away to Kosovo, Gareth Southgate has confirmed, while praising the forward for a “brilliant” response to a tough week.

The Manchester City attacker is dropped for Thursday’s qualifier at home to Montenegro, after a club-related altercation with Joe Gomez on Monday. The issue has dominated the build-up to England’s 1,000th international, but Southgate feels that will be the end of the matter and there is no reason for it to go further

Directly asked whether Sterling would start, Southgate said: “Yes, as I say, without knowing what might happen in tomorrow’s game and everything else, but I can’t see [any issue].

“None, none whatsoever. As I said yesterday, we take the decision and drew a line under everything. We move forward now, the way he’s trained has been exemplary, so that’s it.”

Southgate went on to reveal that Sterling spoke to the players in the dressing room to acknowledge the incident, and what happened.

“His reaction has been brilliant. He spoke to the team really well and he’s trained really well and I can’t fault his reaction at all… in terms of how he’s trained and how he’s been around the guys and with us, I’m happy.

“What we’ve seen is somebody playing and training at the top level with good motivation and good technical ability, so I don’t think we’ve seen anything less than him training at his very best level.”

Raheem Sterling spoke to the players in the dressing room after the incident with Joe Gomez (Reuters)

Asked whether Sterling has the hump with his manager, Southgate joked: “I don’t know that for sure. You don’t have to be an expert in human behaviour to think it was possible.”

One theme of the week has been whether Southgate would have taken the same controversial decision if it was before a World Cup semi-final. The manager, however, slightly dodged the question.

“It’s hypothetical, really, because we’re not, and so whatever I say actually doesn’t have any value, because until you’re in the situation and you have to make the decision... I see people ask me all the time about what they would do when they give an answer, which doesn’t really hold any sway, because they’ll only say it when they’re actually in that moment, so, yes, I can’t really give you an answer.”

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