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England focus not affected by Sterling-Gomez fall-out

Manager Gareth Southgate says he is satisfied with how the matter has been handled.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his side were focused on Thursday’s match (Simon Cooper/PA).
England manager Gareth Southgate said his side were focused on Thursday’s match (Simon Cooper/PA).

By PA Sport Staff

England manager Gareth Southgate insists his side have not struggled to focus on their match against Montenegro amid the fall-out from the clash between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.

The Manchester City forward has been sidelined from Thursday night’s match at Wembley, England’s 1,000th fixture, as a disciplinary measure following an altercation with Gomez.

“I think that we have dealt with everything. The reason we have tried to do that as quickly as possible is so we can focus fully on the match,” said Southgate ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier.

“Everybody has trained really well. The whole group are together now. We are looking forward to getting on with it.”

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Joe Gomez (left) and Raheem Sterling trained along with their England team-mates at St George’s Park earlier on Wednesday (Mike Egerton/PA).

Southgate also responded to criticism that he has overreacted by dropping Sterling.

He added: “Everybody, when you are a leader or manager, will have an opinion on the decisions that you take. Only those who have been in this position really know all the details involved.

“Everybody will view it differently. You have to do what you believe to be the right thing. If you only try to take decisions that you think will keep people happy, that’s not a route to take either.

“I have to do first and foremost what is right for the country, what’s right for the team, all the while trying to look after the players.”

Discussing how England might cope without Sterling, Southgate said: “Of course he is in outstanding form and he is an outstanding player, but we have a very good team out there tomorrow.

“We always select a team that we believe can win the match and one that is full of energy, full of speed and full of technical ability.”

The England boss remains confident that Gomez is in the right frame of mind following the incident.

“Everybody in the squad is ready,” he stressed. “That’s hardly ever any different. Everybody is ready for the game.”

England need just one more point to qualify for Euro 2020 ahead of Thursday’s clash with Montenegro and will also be through if Kosovo lose to Czech Republic on the same day.

Joe and Raheem are talking now, so it’s good for the team to move on Harry Maguire

“I think as players we have a job and we have got a big game tomorrow night,” said Manchester United defender Harry Maguire.

“We are trying to qualify for the Euros, we are solely focused on that now. We have moved on from it. It is really important that we put on a performance tomorrow night and get the qualification which we have all wanted.

“It is not ultimately our decision on the punishment of Raheem.

“I think Gareth has said that it is his decision. As players we have moved on, Joe and Raheem are talking now, so it’s good for the team to move on and it’s really important to get the three points tomorrow.

“Everybody mixes, I think you have seen how good the unity in the squad has been over the last couple of years. The squad has grown together and we will keep on growing. There are definitely no cliques.”

PA

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