England manager Gareth Southgate insisted his squad’s focus hasn’t been derailed by the publicised altercation between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.

The Manchester City forward has been dropped from the matchday squad to face Montenegro on Thursday night – England’s 1,000th fixture – as a disciplinary measure, with Southgate reiterating that a line has been drawn under the matter.

“I think that we have dealt with everything,” Southgate said. ”The reason we have tried to do that as quickly as possible is so we can focus fully on the match.

“Everybody has trained really well. The whole group are together now. We are looking forward to getting on with it.”

Southgate also acknowledged the criticism that he had overreacted in dropping Sterling, who was initially set to leave the England camp following the incident that is believed to have left a visible scratch under the Liverpool defender’s right eye.

“Everybody, when you are a leader or manager, will have an opinion on the decisions that you take,” Southgate added. “Only those who have been in this position really know all the details involved.

“Everybody will view it differently. You have to do what you believe to be the right thing. If you only try to take decisions that you think will keep people happy, that’s not a route to take either.

“I have to do first and foremost what is right for the country, what’s right for the team, all the while trying to look after the players.”​

Gareth Southgate and Harry Maguire speak ahead of the fixture (Reuters)

Southgate also added that he’s certain Gomez is in the right frame of mind following the public spotlight that’s overshadowed the build-up to Thursday’s fixture.

“Everybody in the squad is ready,” he stressed. “That’s hardly ever any different. Everybody is ready for the game.”

England need just one more point to qualify for Euro 2020 ahead of Thursday’s clash with Montenegro and will also be through if Kosovo lose to Czech Republic on the same day.

“I think as players we have a job and we have got a big game tomorrow night,” said Manchester United defender Harry Maguire. “We are trying to qualify for the Euros, we are solely focused on that now. We have moved on from it. It is really important that we put on a performance tomorrow night and get the qualification which we have all wanted.

“It is not ultimately our decision on the punishment of Raheem.

“I think Gareth has said that it is his decision. As players we have moved on, Joe and Raheem are talking now, so it’s good for the team to move on and it’s really important to get the three points tomorrow.

“Everybody mixes, I think you have seen how good the unity in the squad has been over the last couple of years. The squad has grown together and we will keep on growing. There are definitely no cliques.”



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