Southgate dropped Sterling for Thursday’s European Qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley after the Manchester City forward was involved in an altercation with Gomez at the national team’s St George’s Park training base on Monday – a continuation of hostility which was sparked during Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield on Sunday.
The pair trained side by side on Wednesday without any issues but Southgate “imagines” Sterling may not be “hugely enthusiastic” towards his manager.
When asked if Sterling may have “the hump”, Southgate said: “I can understand that and, you know, in the end he’s with the group, that’s the most important thing.
“He’s a massive part of what we do – has been, will be. He’s with us for the game tomorrow, he’s back with the team on the training pitch enjoying his football. [He] trained superbly well, as he always does. So for me, the thing is finished.
“As a player, my relationship with my managers and how I felt about them changed day to day, and there were many occasions when I had the hump with them, usually when I wasn’t in the team.
“So, I understand that, I hope that time takes its course on those things.
“As a manager, you hope that you bring lots of good moments for players, there are those occasions where you give them their debut, you give them the chance to play. But, there are inevitably occasions when you don’t start them, where you have to take them off, and that will always be the landscape.
“I hope that all of my players know that, first and foremost, I care about them, that I want to be fair with them, that I want to do what’s right for all of them, and that they can lean on me when they need me. And I also accept that, you know, at times, they’re not going to be bouncing with joy when they see my face walking through the meal room.”
A number of former England players including Jamie Carragher, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand have suggested club cliques as a factor in the under performance of the side in previous major tournaments. But Harry Maguire does not believe that issue applies to the current set of players – despite the row between Sterling and Gomez.
“No, everybody mixes,” he said.
“I think you’ve seen how good the unity in the squad is over the last couple of years. It’s been a good two years and the group has grown together. We continue to keep on growing and that’s really important. No, definitely no cliques, we all share tables and share jokes and laughs together.
“Like I said, we’ve moved on from it, as players we’ve moved on. Joe (Gomez) and Raheem (Sterling) are talking now, so it’s good for the team to move on and it’s really important to get the three points tomorrow.” There will be reflections on England’s past ahead of what will be their 1,000th international on Thursday.
Southgate believes his current youthful side have already outperformed the star-studded team of the mid-2000s.