But Roy Hodgson has praised the winger's response, working hard in a full-on training session at Barry University under the baking Miami sun prior to the clash against Honduras.
And the England manager admits he will find it hard to keep Sterling out of his World Cup team even though he has only played 39 minutes in the build-up games.
"His reaction has been excellent," Hodgson said.
"You saw the games and the passing practice we did today and I thought he was unstoppable at times. Some of the things he did out there were quite breathtaking.
"I'm disappointed he won't play (against Honduras). I was going to start him, but it doesn't affect his chance of playing in the first team when the tournament starts.
"He's still making me aware he's a player who can inflict an awful lot of damage on the opposition. He is an exceptional talent, along with our other exceptional talents."
His words seem to have had an effect, with Gerrard saying: "He's very resilient. He was the best player in training this morning.
"Straight away after the incident I spoke to him in the dressing room and I said it was important he put himself back in the frame for Italy, and he's done that."
Sterling went over the top of the ball and took out Valencia in the dying minutes of Wednesday's 2-2 draw, and the Manchester United midfielder reacted by grabbing the Liverpool player by the neck.
Both were sent off and Jack Wilshere was lucky not to join them in the dressing rooms for striking out at Valencia in the melee that unfolded.
Hodgson has reminded his players there must be no such carry-ons in Brazil.
"We talked about (the incident) to be honest," Hodgson said. "I don't think it was an ill-disciplined act. It was an over-exuberant, slightly reckless act."
Sterling's absence for the Honduras game is a blow for Hodgson, whose attacking options on the wing were already reduced following a knee ligament injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Arsenal winger has had treatment on the injury over the last 48 hours and is expected to be out for two to three weeks.
Hodgson looks set to take the 20-year-old to Brazil on Saturday night, though, as his medical team are confident of a full recovery in time for the latter part of the group stages.
Hodgson will not decide whether Oxlade-Chamberlain will remain in his 23-man squad until next Friday.
"We will decide at the very, very last moment available to us, which is 24 hours before we play the first game," Hodgson added.
"I don't think that's a gamble at all. He's working very hard. He's in a positive frame of mind."
Hodgson still plans to release stand-by players Jon Flanagan and John Stones on Saturday evening, although one of them will be called up should Oxlade-Chamberlain be ruled out.
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