England boss Gareth Southgate admits it is the right time for Joe Gomez to go home and “clear his head” after insisting the Liverpool defender had suffered an injury to rule him out of the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 qualifier in Kosovo.
The 22-year-old was jeered by home fans as he came off the bench in Thursday’s 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley after being involved in an altercation with Raheem Sterling earlier in the week.
Sterling left Gomez with a scratch on his face following a fracas at St George’s Park on Monday in the aftermath of Liverpool’s victory over Premier League title rivals Manchester City the previous day.
The result of the incident saw Sterling sidelined against Montenegro as punishment but it was Gomez who was given a mixed reception – with Southgate insisting in the aftermath that no England player should be booed by their own fans.
Eyebrows were raised on Saturday morning when it was announced Gomez had withdrawn from the squad ahead of the trip to Pristina with a slight knee problem.
Southgate clarified the situation at his pre-match press conference where he also conceded being taken out of the limelight could benefit Gomez given the week he has had.
“You couldn’t make it up really if you tried,” Southgate replied when asked about Gomez’s injury. “I think now is a good moment for him just to go home for a couple of days, clear his head.
“He’s absolutely fine. He took a clash of knees yesterday. We scanned it just to be certain and I think he’ll be fine in a couple of days, but he wasn’t able to train today.
“He was in a much better place very quickly. We actually ended up having a chuckle this morning at the ridiculousness of him having to go home in the way he has
“So, I think for him it’s been a difficult week, as you say, but one that will make him stronger and one that he’s dealt with really well.”
England have already qualified for Euro 2020 courtesy of their win over Montenegro in midweek.