Euro 2020 qualifiers: Sterling show ahead!
Winger Raheem's ouster on disciplinary grounds notwithstanding, England boss Southgate confident team will focus on sealing Euro 2020 berth tonight
London: England's plan to celebrate their 1,000th international by qualifying for Euro 2020 in serene style against Montenegro at Wembley tonight has been ripped up by Gareth Southgate's decision to drop Raheem Sterling. The Man City winger was involved in a confrontation with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez at England's training base on Monday as emotions spilled over from the highly-anticipated EPL clash between the two clubs on Sunday. Sterling has scored eight of his side's 26 goals in six games.
He has also been a leading figure as England have stood up to the racist abuse in Montenegro and Bulgaria. One of Southgate's strengths has been to foster a unity in the camp, far removed from the club-aligned cliques. That now faces its biggest test as the rivalry between Liverpool and City threatens to spill over. Southgate's first instinct was reportedly to send Sterling home, but the intervention of senior players, principally Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, helped ease the feud and the Sterling has remained with the squad to train.
"I always have to find the right solution for the group and that's a very difficult line," said Southgate. "We have a good understanding of the way that we have worked over the last couple of years, which has brought us a lot of togetherness that is still there. We are a united group. Now we have to turn our focus onto the football. We have a hugely important qualifier to reach a European Championship," he added.
Live on TV
England v Montenegro: Sony Ten 2 & Ten 2 HD, 01:15 (Friday)
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