What England boss Gareth Southgate said when asked if Raheem Sterling scratched Joe Gomez


England manager Gareth Southgate was not prepared to confirm whether or not Raheem Sterling caused the scratch seen underneath Joe Gomez’s right eye on Tuesday.

The Three Lions pair clashed at St George’s Park on Monday ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

That was after an on-pitch altercation the previous day as Gomez’s Liverpool and Sterling’s Manchester City went head-to-head in the Premier League at Anfield.

Liverpool beat City 3-1 to move nine points ahead of the reining English champions, with former Reds winger Sterling clashing with both Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold during separate times in the match.

Sterling is then said to have approached Gomez the next day at England’s training base, still angered by their spat.

Sky Sports report that Sterling asked his compatriot whether he thinks he is “the big man” and tried to grab Gomez’s throat, which caused the Liverpool man to react angrily after their team-mates had initially believed the exchange was merely a joke.

But it soon became obvious it was more serious than first thought, with the duo having to be separated by their team-mate.

Gomez’s Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson, also formerly a club team-mate of Sterling’s, reportedly helped soothe tensions.

It is claimed he heard of the incident through a Liverpool staff member despite having yet to turn up at England’s headquarters and spoke over the phone for nearly half-an-hour with both Sterling and Gomez in the same room.

Yet it appeared as though Sterling was to leave the squad altogether despite Gomez accepting the City star’s apology, with The Times reporting that he was en route back to Manchester before Southgate invited him back to the camp after meeting with several senior players.

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The matter is said to be considered over between Gomez and Sterling, though the former seemingly wore the after effects of the row under his eye after pictures emerged from training the following day.

Asked if Sterling had caused the scratch on Gomez’s face, Southgate responded: “The reality is I’m not prepared to go into detail. 

“There is enough conjecture and opinion and talk out there – we don’t need to add to that.

“I’ve said what I think needs to be said but we have to keep as much as we can between ourselves.”

The former England defender insists leaving Sterling out of contention for the Montenegro match was the best possible course of action.

He said: “It is not for me to discuss the details of the incident, there is nothing to be gained from that. In the end I have to find the right solution for the group. 

“That’s a difficult line, you try to be fair when dealing with all players. I won’t always get that right but I am the manager. Raheem is very important for us but I felt it was the right thing [for him not to play against Montenegro].

“You have to find a way for the group to move forward. We needed emotions across the board to calm down.

“My priority is always the care and well-being of all of my players. Then you have a decision to make on whether there is something further and the right thing for the group moving forward and that was my decision not to select Raheem.”

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