The Chelsea star has been in impressive form this season, netting four goals and providing two assists for his club. However, his exclusion from the Three Lions squad for the final European Championship qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia has raised eyebrows.
The 28-year-old has now missed out on selection for the national team for the fifth consecutive international camp since the last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Gareth Southgate, the England manager, emphasized that there has been no breakdown in his relationship with the player, who was once a key figure in the England setup. Despite this, Southgate sees no reason to alter his current attacking options.
Southgate made it clear that the door is wide open for players like Raheem Sterling and others who are not part of the squad. He acknowledged Sterling’s quality and personality and acknowledged his historical significance in England’s journey. Southgate cited the squad’s strong recent performances, including an exceptional win against Italy, and questioned who they would leave out.
Regarding Sterling’s exclusion, Southgate clarified that the relationship hasn’t deteriorated. Sterling was unavailable in previous camps, and the squad maintained a good run of performances, so they decided to stick with that group without making many changes.
Southgate also highlighted the competition in the attacking department, mentioning players like Jarrod Bowen, Anthony Gordon, and Cole Palmer, who have been performing well in their respective clubs.
He noted that the winger position has evolved with more depth compared to the past, with a changing landscape that offers more options.
In essence, Southgate expressed that he isn’t trying to send a specific message to Sterling; rather, the competition for positions in the squad is fierce, particularly in the winger role, and it reflects the evolving nature of England’s squad composition.