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.”


De Silva hundred in rain-hit historic Pakistan Test

Updated 15 December 2019

De Silva hundred in rain-hit historic Pakistan Test

  • Sri Lanka declared their first innings at 308-6 after 20 minutes of batting on day five
  • The second Test will be played in Karachi from December 19

RAWALPINDI: Middle-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva completed his century on the fifth and final day against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Sunday, the first Test in the country since 2009 shooting.
The 28-year-old right-hander drove paceman Mohammad Abbas to cover boundary for his 15th boundary to complete his sixth Test hundred in his 28th Test.
Sri Lanka, who had won the toss and batted, declared their first innings at 308-6 after 20 minutes of batting on day five as the rain-affected Test is set to end in a draw after almost three days of play were lost.
De Silva remained unbeaten on 102 after 241 minutes of batting, having come at the score of 127-4 on Thursday. He hit 15 boundaries. Dilruwan Perera remained unbeaten on 16.
Any hopes of a result in Pakistan’s historic Test have been dashed by rain and bad light which ended the first day’s play after 68.1 overs.
Only 18.2 overs were possible on day two, 5.2 on the third and the fourth day’s play was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The pick of the Pakistan bowlers were 16-year-old pace bowler Naseem Shah who took 2-92 and Shaheen Shah Afridi with 2-58.
The Test is the first in Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus killed eight people in March 2009, leading to the suspension of international cricket in the country as foreign teams refused to visit over security fears.
The second Test is in Karachi from December 19.