The Daily Mail are among those to claim Sterling had tried to grab the Liverpool defender by the throat in the canteen area of England's St George's Park training base.

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A statement on the FA website referred to the incident leading to Sterling’s omission as "a disturbance in a private team area at St. George’s Park."

The 24-year-old later admitted on social media that he had a "five to 10 second thing" with Gomez, but added the pair had made up.

Sterling and Gomez were involved in a confrontation towards the end of Liverpool's 3-1 win against Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday but appeared to have settled their differences with a post-match embrace.

However, tempers flared once more when the Liverpool centre-half greeted Sterling upon his arrival at St George's Park, per the Mail:

Sterling was sat down in the canteen when Gomez arrived and lent over from behind to shake his hand, leading to him to attempt to grab his team-mate by the neck. The rest of the England players initially thought Sterling was joking, but it soon became clear that he had lost control and the pair were separated

The severity of the incident had led England manager Gareth Southgate to consider sending Sterling home, the report adds, but instead the forward will miss Montenegro fixture, England's 1000th international, with the 24-year-old Sterling expected to be available for selection for Sunday's trip to Kosovo.

"We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday," said Southgate in a statement on the FA's website.

“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw.

My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night.

OUR VIEW

Much of Gareth Southgate's success as England manager has been based around fostering a sense of togetherness within the Three Lions squad. Therefore, the way Southgate handles this unfortunate flare-up could come to define his tenure - miss-manage it and the damage could prove terminal.

The easiest way to deal with a transgression such as Sterling's would be to jettison the guilty party. However, that is easier said than done when the perceived guilty party is England's best player.

Upon first inspection, it appears as though England have handled this as best they can - they have got ahead of the story with an early statement confirming that Sterling has been reprimanded and the punishment - while not as severe as it could have been - has been made with the agreement of the rest of the squad.

Whether that puts this episode to bed remains to be seen as this will be a story for the whole of the international break. It is imperative that England win both their Euro 2020 qualifiers against eminently beatable opposition - otherwise what now represents a fairly sizable distraction could morph into something far more unpalatable PR-wise should it be seen to have impacted on England's ability to operate as an effective team unit.

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