The Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez row which marred England’s preparations for a Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Montenegro blew over “in 10 seconds”, says Steve McManaman, with the atmosphere in the camp “quite relaxed afterwards”.
It was revealed prior to the Three Lions’ first outing of the latest international break that two players from rival Premier League outfits had become embroiled in a training ground bust-up.
A domestic meeting between Liverpool and Manchester City prior to the England squad meeting up at St George’s Park had seen Sterling and Gomez exchange words on the field.
That feud was sparked again when they crossed paths with their country, with Gareth Southgate taking the decision to remove the City winger from his plans for a Wembley date with Montenegro.
The Three Lions boss faced criticism for making the incident public knowledge, but those in the squad were quick to talk it down after a meeting to clear the air.
McManaman is among those who feel that the matter was blown out of proportion, with the former Liverpool and England winger telling HorseRacing.net: “To be honest, there are always clashes in training - when you live and play football every single day, there’s always heated incidents on the training ground.
“When the intensity is high and people are playing for places, you may get away with a tackle or a pull of the shirt and people get frustrated, it happens all the time.
“To me it was nothing; it was over in 10 seconds, both the players were fine and I was actually there on the day it happened at the hotel and it was quite relaxed afterwards.”
Gomez was booed by certain members of the home support when introduced off the bench against Montenegro, with McManaman condemning those who took to jeering their own player.
He added: “I thought it was absolutely ridiculous what happened with Joe Gomez being booed at Wembley, but that is just part of what happens when a story gets out - people start taking one side or the other.
“In the world we live in now, it’s physically impossible to keep anything quiet anymore, and I think that’s the sad thing about it.
“I don’t think Jurgen Klopp necessarily has to give him any backing by starting him against Crystal Palace on Saturday. I think if everyone is fit, he will probably go with the team that beat Manchester City, and if Joe plays it will be because he is a fantastic player - that’s all.”
While backing Gomez to slip back into a domestic fold with the Premier League leaders, McManaman has also talked up the re-emergence of Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain for Liverpool and England after more unfortunate injury struggles.
He said of the midfielder: “I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been brilliant over the past month or so when he’s been given more time to play.
“I have no idea if he will start in the European Championships with England, but he deserves to be there, because his form is excellent.
“I thought he was brilliant last week in the Champions League for Liverpool, his performances are improving the more he stays fit, so I do hope he gets himself into the England squad for the upcoming European Championships.
“In terms of getting into the Liverpool side on a permanent basis, their starting XI seems pretty settled at the moment when everybody’s fit and well, but of course we know in December that Liverpool have 10 games as well as going to Qatar for the World Club Cup, so everybody will get a chance to play and a chance to perform well.
“At the moment, Liverpool’s starting XI deserves to be where it is because they’re in magnificent form.”