Gareth Southgate has spoken about the incident involving Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez, saying that “emotions ran over” during the Man City game.
The Manchester City forward reportedly grabbed Liverpool defender Gomez by the throat at England’s training base – a day after they squared up to each other during Sunday’s game at Anfield.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the England manager appeared to double down on Sterling’s admission that he was at fault, while suggesting that Gomez was not to blame.
He said: “Raheem in his 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.
“We are dealing with a very young squad in a sport where emotions often run high. These things happen in football. My priority is always the care and well being of all my players. All my players.
“Then you have a decision to make as to whether there needs to be something further, which is my reasoning for not selecting Raheem for the game on Thursday.”
The FA said on Monday that Sterling had been dropped from Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro after the incident.
Gomez appeared to have a scratch under his right eye as the pair trained with the squad at their St George’s Park base in Burton upon Trent on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, former England footballer Rio Ferdinand criticised Southgate for his handling of the row.
Some of the team reportedly believe the treatment of Sterling has been heavy-handed and that the fallout should have been kept in-house, a view echoed by Ferdinand.
“I feel this incident could have been handled better,” the former Three Lions captain posted on Facebook. “Keep it behind closed doors & deal with it internally surely?!
“Now Raheem is left to defend himself from all of the haters that had had their keyboards turned off due to him becoming a very worthy ambassador for the English game, and rightly so.
“If this was a terrible incident then I would be all for public shaming & discipline. But for this ‘throat grab’ that we are TOLD it’s for I can’t understand it.”
The pair are over it, according to Sterling, who wrote on Instagram on Monday night that “emotions got the better of me” and that he and Gomez “understand it was a 5-10 second thing and it’s done”.
He added: “Both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on” and “we move forward and not make this bigger than it is.”
Southgate previously said: “We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday.
“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team.”
His ex-England team-mate Gary Neville backed the coach, saying it sent a “clear message” that the manager “won’t accept club rivalries coming into England.
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