Gareth Southgate insists his England squad are still like a close knit family – even after the bitter fall-out from Raheem Sterling’s bust-up.
Sterling has been axed from England’s squad to face Montenegro on Thursday after his row with Joe Gomez which left the Liverpool defender with a scratch under his right eye.
England boss Southgate took the highly unusual decision to go public on the bitter spat at St George’s Park on Monday and the reasons why Sterling has been excluded.
But it is understood that some members of the England squad believe the punishment is too harsh and that the Football Association was wrong to go public.
Manchester City forward Sterling had a furious row with Gomez on Monday just 24 hours after the had a bust-up on the pitch at Anfield following Liverpool’s 3-1 win in their title showdown.
Tempers were still simmering on Monday and Sterling admitted he had “words” with Gomez in a flare-up in the canteen, left the camp briefly before Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson played peacemaker and persuaded him to go back.
Sterling later apologised to Gomez and the rest of his England team mates, trained as normal on Tuesday but Southgate took the strong sanction and said the row was like any family has.
Southgate said: “I love all of my players. We’re like a family and all families have disagreements, but the most important thing for any family is that you communicate through those and work through those disagreements.
“I don’t expect, as a manager, never to have to deal with things that either unexpected or difficult. That’s part and parcel of the job and part and parcel of working with elite players, so, as I say, our focus is now to move forward.
“As emotions calmed yesterday it was clearly a possibility and everybody worked that through. I am very impressed with the players with how they worked that through collectively. Then i had to make some difficult calls on that. But that is done and end of discussion.”
The FA are likely to gather as much evidence as possible from the row in the canteen – Southgate was not present when it unfolded – but it is understood that they now regard it as being dealt with and a misconduct charge is unlikely.
England left back Ben Chilwell praised the way both players spoke in a team meeting on Monday night and insisted the squad has now moved on from the row.
Chilwell said: “Joe spoke in the meeting, as did Raheem. He got across what he wanted to get across. He is a great guy away from football and this is a great dressing room. There are no bad eggs in the squad. It is a good place to be.
“Obviously like the gaffer said, there will always be disagreements between the squad. Club football is very passionate and especially between Liverpool and Man City fighting for the title as they have done over the years, passions will run high.
“Training was good the same as normal and the changing room seemed normal this morning. As far as I am concerned it has been squashed and we move on.”