- Sterling was left out of England’s squad for European Championship qualifiers
- Gareth Southgate, instead, opted to call up two players from England’s U21s
- What’s the story with Raheem Sterling? Listen to It’s All Kicking Off
Sterling, who has four goals and an assist for Chelsea so far this season, has not played for England since last year’s quarter-final defeat by France as his Three Lions exile continues.
While Southgate has denied falling out with the former Manchester City star, Mail Sport’s Ian Ladyman believes that there could be more than meets the eye regarding Sterling’s omission.
Speaking on Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast, Ladyman reflected on the England squad and said: ‘He goes for players who’ve done well for him in the past.
Raheem Sterling was left out of Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad last week
The England boss has denied that he has fallen out with the Three Lions and Chelsea winger
Ian Ladyman suggested Sterling’s absence is down to him flying home during the World Cup
‘[Kalvin] Phillips, [Jordan] Henderson, [Marcus] Rashford – you can also mention [Harry] Maguire – are players who have consistently done well for Gareth. And he likes that, he rewards that!
‘Now, he’s actually gone against that a little bit with Sterling because Sterling is a player who, certainly up until the Euros that we had here, was always in Gareth’s team.
‘And probably up until the World Cup, he was always in his team. And he’s turned his back on him for now.’
It’s All Kicking Off co-host Chris Sutton pushed Ladyman for more answers, as he said: ‘So what’s the story there with Sterling?’
Ladyman replied: ‘Gareth claims there isn’t one. Gareth claims it’s on form and it’s to do with the emergence of people like Saka and Grealish and Foden and the competition for places. We’re not sure that we’re quite buying that one.’
Sutton then queries as to whether there is ‘something that we don’t know’ going on behind the scenes, to which Ladyman said: ‘The suspicion is that there is.
‘There’s a suspicion that there’s a lingering sense of distaste from what happened at the World Cup when Raheem went home. But then, you know, he had been burgled.’
Ladyman was quick to assert that his claim was only ‘speculative’.
Sterling flew home to comfort his family following a break-in at his Surrey home last year
During the World Cup, there was controversy after the winger flew home to comfort his family following a break-in at his Surrey home.
Sterling returned to the UK midway through the tournament after it emerged his house had been burgled while his partner Paige Milian and their young children were inside.
The winger eventually returned to the England camp prior to the quarter-final clash against France.
At the time, Southgate expressed his backing for Sterling, saying: ‘He has felt the need to support his family and to be there for his family and that is a simple decision for me – I have to support the player.’
Speaking after the announcement of his squad for games against Malta and North Macedonia, Southgate dismissed speculation that a rift was to blame for Sterling’s absence, instead highlighting the quality within the team that makes it difficult for the former Manchester City star to force his way back in.
‘The door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but also other players who aren’t in this squad,’ said Southgate.
‘We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of the journey we’ve been on.
‘It’s an area of the pitch where we have as much competition as anywhere. Bowen has started the season well. Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer are doing well. It’s a changing landscape there.
‘We used to not have wingers, that’s why we used wing-backs in Russia. We have a lot of depth in those areas now, that’s what people need to understand.’
Mail Sport’s Ladyman was speaking to Chris Sutton on the latest episode of It’s All Kicking Off