Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez in action with Manchester City's Raheem Sterling during a recent Premier League match. Reuters
Updated 17 November 2019

Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

  • World Cup semifinalists ‘still have room for improvement as they chase first major title since 1966’

PRISTINA:  Gareth Southgate is set to bring Raheem Sterling back from his brief England exile in Sunday’s qualifier against Kosovo as he seeks to end the controversy over the Manchester City star’s row with Joe Gomez.

Sterling was dropped for Thursday’s 7-0 rout of Montenegro after clashing with England team-mate Gomez in the Three Lions’ training base canteen.

It is believed Sterling was unhappy with Gomez following an altercation with the Liverpool defender during City’s Premier League defeat at Anfield last weekend.

Although Sterling was left out of the Montenegro game as punishment for his attack on Gomez, Southgate has confirmed the winger will return for England’s final Group A fixture.

Sterling and Gomez, left with a scratch under his eye after the incident, are said to have patched up their relationship, but the center-back was jeered by England fans at Wembley when he came on as a substitute against Montenegro.

Both Southgate and Sterling expressed their support for Gomez and criticized the booing supporters, with the England manager reportedly comforting the shocked 22-year-old and his family after the match.

Now Southgate could include Gomez against Kosovo in a show of support for the Liverpool player.

With England already guaranteed to qualify for Euro 2020 in first place in their group, Southgate already planned to make changes, although he is keen to ensure England finish with a win as they eye a top-six seeding in next year’s tournament.

“We will make some changes, for sure, but the seeding in the group could be critical and we know it’s a big night for the Kosovans,” Southgate said.

“It’s a shame for them that they’re now out of this part of the qualification, although they’ve still got the playoffs in which I think they’ll be a huge threat in that format. “So, it will be a good test for us because it will still be a lively environment.

“The enthusiasm for the game is high and we want to finish the group with as many points as we can.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could return following a one-match ban, while Southgate has to decide whether to keep faith with Ben Chilwell ahead of Danny Rose at left-back.

Harry Kane may have scored a hat-trick against Montenegro but it was Leicester’s Chilwell who was named England’s man of the match following a fine display in which he provided three assists in the opening 24 minutes.

“Ben, I liked the hunger in his game, the enthusiasm to get forward,” Southgate said.

“The whole team pressed well but he also pressed well from that full-back position, got into overlaps, his quality of delivery was excellent.”

Although England have cruised through their qualifying group, Southgate believes the 2018 World Cup semifinalists still have room for improvement as they chase a first major title since 1966.

“There were a couple of chances we conceded that just shouldn’t happen, so that’s still part of our game that we’ve got to improve upon,” he said.

“If we are to be a team that are going to challenge seriously, although we’re young, we’ve got to manage games well.

“We’ve got to make sure that, although we’re such a fantastic attacking threat, the rest of the team is right as well. There are things we’ve got to be better at.”


Patient Abid cuts his way into cricket history at age 32

Updated 31 min 31 sec ago

Patient Abid cuts his way into cricket history at age 32

  • He has long been knocking at the doors of international cricket
  • Abid is now the oldest Pakistani player to score a century on debut

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: Nobody can accuse 32-year-old Abid Ali of not seizing his chances when given them.
Pakistan drew its first test at home in 10 years against Sri Lanka at the Pindi Cricket Stadium after rain washed out more than half of the match, but not before Abid had smashed a century on debut. He was batting at the same venue where Pakistan great Younis Khan scored a century on his test debut in 2000 — also against Sri Lanka.
Abid completed a unique double, becoming the batsman in the history of the sport to score a century in both his ODI and test debuts.
More than 12,000 cricket-starved fans — popularly known as ‘The Pindi Boys’ — enjoyed every moment of the opener’s innings under bright sunshine. He hit an unbeaten 109, featuring 11 fours. Six of those boundaries were his favorite cut shots.
Abid has long been knocking at the doors of international cricket but had to wait patiently until he got his chance in March this year during the limited-overs series.
A scintillating ODI century against Australia in the United Arab Emirates was not enough to convince the selectors that he was ready for the all-important World Cup in England.
But Abid didn’t lose heart and continued to polish his skills at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. He was among the 16-man squad which toured Australia for the recent two-test series but couldn’t fit in new coach Misbah-ul-Haq’s plans. Pakistan returned home after heavy losses at Brisbane and Adelaide, where Abid watched from the sidelines.
Abid’s hopes were raised once again when he was selected for the home series against Sri Lanka, but there were still pundits who didn’t believe he’d get a chance in Rawalpindi.
“I had never grumbled whenever I was ignored,” Abid said. “I have patience. I believed that my time will come ... Thankfully I got my chance and what else you could ask for than a hundred on debut. I waited a long for this very day and here I am.”
Only 5.2 overs could be bowled on the third day and the entire fourth day was washed out due to wet conditions.
Bright sunshine welcomed players on the last day and Abid seized the opportunity Sunday after Sri Lanka declared its first innings at 308-6 once Dhananjaya de Silva had scored his sixth test hundred.
Together with Pakistan’s most reliable batsman Babar Azam, who scored his third test hundred, Abid enthralled fans under perfect batting conditions.
Abid, now the oldest Pakistani player to score a century on debut, said he didn’t want to be compared with the greats of the game.
“I am an ordinary player and I can’t match great players,” he said. “I am Abid Ali and please see me as Abid Ali only.”
But one of those greats has already acknowledged that a star is on the rise in the Pakistan team.
“We call him Legend” in the dressing room, Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis tweeted after Abid’s century.