Raheem Sterling is returning home from the World Cup in Qatar after armed intruders broke into his home on Saturday night.
The England forward missed the 3-0 win against Senegal in the last‑16 tie on Sunday and Gareth Southgate said it was unclear whether Sterling would return. England play France in a quarter-final on Saturday.
Southgate said Sterling would be allowed “as much time as he needs” to deal with the emergency, which has left him shaken and concerned for his children.
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The England head coach was asked whether Sterling would come back and told ITV: “I really don’t know because at the moment it’s a situation that he needs to be with his family to deal with. I don’t want to put him under any pressure with this. Sometimes football isn’t the most important thing and family has to come first.”
England’s captain, Harry Kane, said: “Our thoughts are with him and his family. It’s a private matter but it’s never easy to see one of your teammates and friends deal with something like that. We’ll have to take it day by day. I’m sure Raheem will speak to the manager and take the best decision for him and his family. That’s the most important thing. We send him our best wishes and hope to see him as soon as possible.”
Sterling’s commitment to England has never been in doubt and it is only concern for his children that informed his decision to leave at such a pivotal time for the team.
Southgate admitted the situation did not help his preparations for Senegal but he said it did not force him to change his starting XI. “It didn’t impact the team selection,” he said.
“I spent a lot of time with Raheem this morning. You have days where events happen and you have to deal with them, so he’s on his way home and yeah, we’re obviously mindful of him being allowed space and his privacy respected. We don’t want to talk in too much detail.
“Of course it’s not ideal for the group ahead of a big game but it pales into insignificance because the individual is more important than the group in those moments, so we needed to look after the situation and then I had to pass that on to others this afternoon in order to get him home.”