(Reuters) - England winger Raheem Sterling has been dropped from the squad to face Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifier at Wembley after a “disturbance” at the national team’s training camp on Monday, the Football Association said.
“The FA can confirm Raheem Sterling will not be considered for Thursday’s EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro as a result of a disturbance in a private team area at St. George’s Park today,” the FA said in a statement.
The Daily Mail reported that Manchester City winger Sterling had clashed with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez after the England team got together at their Burton on Trent training centre on Monday — less than 24 hours after City lost 3-1 at Liverpool.
The newspaper reported that “Sterling attempted to grab Gomez by the neck following his arrival in the players’ canteen”. The pair squared up in the latter stages of Sunday’s Premier League clash after Gomez came on as a substitute.
The FA statement, which said Sterling will remain with the squad, did not address the specifics of the dispute or confirm if Gomez was the other party but England boss Gareth Southgate linked the incident to Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash.
“We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday,” Southgate said.
“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw,” he added in the FA statement.
“My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night,” he added.
Sterling has become a key player for England in the past year after being criticised for his displays at the 2018 World Cup.
Last season he was named Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association after scoring 25 goals in all competitions as City won a domestic treble of the Premier League title and the two Cup competitions.
For England, Sterling has scored 12 goals in 55 games but has been a regular under Southgate and scored twice in the recent 6-0 win away to Bulgaria.
England top Group A and will guarantee a place at the finals with a draw against Montenegro. They face another qualifier on Sunday away to Kosovo in which Sterling could feature.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris