Raheem Sterling will not play in England’s 1,000th international having been dropped over a altercation with Joe Gomez.
The Manchester City forward has become key to his country’s hopes and here, the PA news agency takes a look at what England will miss against Montenegro on Thursday.
England’s main man
Sterling has enjoyed a sparkling Euro 2020 qualification campaign up to this point, taking his international form to a new level.
Having scored four goals in his 47 England caps prior to the start of the process in March, he matched that total with a hat-trick against the Czech Republic and a goal in Montenegro.
He did not score in June’s Nations League finals but has four in four games since for a total of eight in six in qualifying.
That leaves him alongside Harry Kane as England’s top scorer in the campaign, with only Russia striker Artem Dzyuba and the unlikely figure of Israel’s Eran Zahavi ahead of them on nine and 11 respectively from eight games each.
Sterling also has six assists, one behind Holland’s Memphis Depay for the lead in that category and matching Dzyuba for the highest combined total.
Manager Gareth Southgate has also praised Sterling off-field contributions, including speaking out against racism in away games in Montenegro and Bulgaria.
Sterling marked his goal against the former by cupping his ears to the crowd and later tweeted a picture of the celebration with the caption “Best way to silence the haters (and yeah I mean racists)”.
Sterling has scored seven Premier League goals this season, leaving him alongside Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in fifth in the scoring charts behind Jamie Vardy, Tammy Abraham, City team-mate Sergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
His five Champions League goals include a hat-trick in the home win over Atalanta, and only Salzburg sensation Erling Braut Haaland (seven) and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (six) have more.
Sterling also scored in the Community Shield against Liverpool and the League Cup win over Preston and has three assists for his club this season.
But City’s title defence has faltered with three early defeats and Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool saw Sterling’s emotions get the better of him, by his own admission, and led to the incident in the England camp.
He was fouled by Gomez, a late Liverpool substitute, who then pushed the City man away before they squared up and were separated by team-mates.
It was not the first time Sterling had shown his frustration, with City twice denied penalties after handball appeals against Trent Alexander-Arnold – the first of which immediately preceded Liverpool’s first goal.
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