Raheem Sterling should face a stronger punishment for his bust-up with England team-mate Joe Gomez, according to Micky Gray.
Sterling has been dropped by Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions’ landmark 1000th international game against Montenegro on Thursday after he angrily confronted Gomez when they arrived at St George’s Park.
The pair had an altercation during Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Manchester City on Sunday, and it seems the tensions from the title showdown spilled over when the winger and defender met up again.
Reports claim Sterling had to be pulled away by shocked team-mates after squaring up to Gomez in a private team area at their training base.
In a statement released on Monday, England manager Southgate said ‘the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw’ and the Three Lions staff had ‘taken the decision to not consider Raheem’ for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro, although he has remained part of the squad.
But former England defender Gray believes Sterling should have been sent home as proper punishment for his actions, saying Southgate has not fixed the problem by keeping him around.
“Raheem Sterling hasn’t been sent home and I find that a problem,” the talkSPORT pundit said on Monday’s Sports Bar.
“He’s going to be around the squad anyway. What are they going to do? Lock his door and keep him away from everybody? He’s going to be there and be involved with the squad.
“If you’re going to punish him then you don’t play him Thursday or Sunday. You should send him home so he’s not part of the squad.
“Then he’s got four or five days to himself to think, ‘what did I say, should I have done that, was it the wrong approach, what will Gareth Southgate think of me, what will the rest of my team-mates think of me?’ All those things go through your mind.
“To say to him you’re not playing but to keep him within in the squad, the problem has not gone, the problem is still on your door step. The two players are still there in the same squad.
“It smells of something, that, for me.”
Southgate’s decision has split fan opinion, with some insisting the matter should have been resolved between the players and Sterling allowed to play given his importance to the team.
But former England cricketer Steve Harmison agrees with Micky, and added that Southgate’s handing of the matter ‘stinks of treating grown men like children’.
“I think it would have been better to send him home,” Harmy said on Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.
“I back Gareth Southgate, what he’s done with England is brilliant, but this stinks of treating people like children, putting them on the naughty step while everyone else plays.”