Gareth Southgate says there is now closure to the incident involving Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez, and he thinks the defender will be stronger after the events of this week.
After his confrontation with Raheem Sterling this week at St George’s Park, Gomez was jeered by England fans as he was substituted on in England’s 7-0 win over Montenegro on Thursday.
But, after the game, Sterling came out in support of his team-mate on social media, saying it was hard to see [him] get booed and that the Liverpool man hasn’t done anything wrong.
Gomez is out of Sunday’s game against Kosovo with an injury and, despite the player leaving the England camp, Southgate believes that is the end of the saga between the two players.
You couldn’t make it up if you tried! He’s absolutely fine. He had a clash of knees yesterday. We scanned it just to be certain and I think he’ll be fine in a couple of days, Southgate said.
But he wasn’t able to train today so it was a simple decision. Now is a good moment for him to go home for a couple of days and clear his head.
The pleasing thing for me is that we got him back on the pitch. The tweet that Raheem put out the other night was real closure on the whole incident.
We get Raheem back on the pitch tomorrow. We won the match on Thursday and we can now just look forward.
We actually ended up had a chuckle this morning at the ridiculousness of the way he’s had to go home in the end.
He’s had a difficult week, as you say, but it’s one that will make him stronger and one that he’s dealt with really well.
Maddison a doubt for Kosovo qualifier
England’s win on Thursday secured their qualification to Euro 2020, as they recorded a comfortable win at Wembley.
James Maddison made his debut in that game, but he is a doubt for the final qualifier with a calf strain.
He has travelled with the rest of the squad, but will face a fitness test before Sunday’s game.
After watching his team score seven goals, Southgate says he was delighted to see his team play so well and he also feels his team aren’t suffering the way some England players have in the past.
What has pleased me most is that we’ve qualified comfortably, playing quality attacking football, he said.
People will look at the quality of some of the opponents but I think, over the years, we’ve had players where the shirt has hung heavy and the performances have reflected.
We put out a team the other day, average age 23, youngest team for 60 years.
There were young players coming in and loving playing for England, playing with freedom and expression and thinking about what’s possible on the field rather than worrying about losing the game or what might what happen in those games.
Winks relishing fight for England midfield places
Harry Winks says he is thriving on the competition for midfield places in the England team.
The 23-year-old played a key role in both of England’s games this international break, but the Tottenham player is taking nothing for granted.
There is a lot of competition at the moment in midfield and everybody is performing so well for their clubs, he said.
In some respects it’s a good thing because you feel like you always have to be on top of your game and that’s only a positive for both myself, the club and the country as well because obviously I want to improve and I want to help others improve as well.
There are so many players at the moment that are pushing for positions and places.
As long as I stay on top of my game and as long as everybody else does (as well) then it will be a good selection problem for the gaffer and hopefully we can make that as difficult as possible for him.
Kosovo to show support for England after racist abuse
Sky Sports News understands there will be two banners displayed by Kosovan supporters in the stadium to show their support for England following the racist abuse suffered by players in Bulgaria.
One is believed to show a black English player holding hands with a white Kosovan player.
They’ll be displayed in the East and West tribunes of the stadium
In a further show of unity, supporters will also be handed A4 cards to hold up during the national anthems. They’ll have the Kosovan flag on one side and a St George’s cross on the other.
Southgate thanked Kosovo for the reception they gave his side as they arrived, but also acknowledges it will be a tough game in Pristina.
He said: Tomorrow is a celebration for Kosovo. It’s a shame they can’t qualify from tomorrow’s game.
I know that for the players some of the pressure is off and they’ll put a really good performance on for a chance to create a historic result.
We’re very confident we’ll receive a brilliant welcome, as we have already, but they’ll want to beat us and the atmosphere will be one that during the game they’ll be fully behind their whole team.