Raheem Sterling withdraws from England squad to face Spain and Switzerland with back injury

Liam Twomey
Pep Guardiola heaps praise on Raheem Sterling as contract negotiations continue to stall
Pep Guardiola heaps praise on Raheem Sterling as contract negotiations continue to stall

Raheem Sterling has withdrawn from the England squad to face Spain and Switzerland due to a back injury, the Football Association have announced.

The winger, who has scored two goals in his first three Premier League appearances for Manchester City this season, was the only player named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad not to report at St George’s Park on Monday evening after informing the England manager of the problem. No replacement will be called up.

England will train for the first time on Tuesday morning as they prepare for their Uefa Nations League opener against Spain at Wembley on Saturday, with a friendly against Switzerland to follow at the King Power Stadium in Leicester next Tuesday.

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Southgate kept faith with 18 of the 23 players that helped England reach the World Cup semi-finals in Russia last summer when he announced the squad on Thursday, with Manchester United full-back Ashley Young the most high-profile name dropped.

United teammate Luke Shaw took Young’s place, earning his first England call-up since March 2017, while Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana and Burnley defender James Tarkowski were also included in the group, having been on the standby list for the World Cup.

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez is back in Southgate’s plans after missing the tournament through injury, and Southhampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy earned his first England call-up in two years as the replacement for injured third-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Chelsea captain Gary Cahill and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy were both omitted after telling Southgate that they wish to concentrate on their club careers for the foreseeable future, though neither man has officially retired from international football.

“With us only being three games into the season, I felt some continuity was important so those who were with us in the summer deserve the right to go again,” Southgate said on announcing his squad. “Others haven’t really had the opportunity to force themselves ahead of those guys.

“From here we have a two-year lead into the European Championships, so I want us to try and capture what we had this summer and why they felt it went well – but, once we’re through this camp, there’s going to be competition from others. People are going to have to play at a good level to retain their places."

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