'You couldn’t make it up' – Southgate stresses Gomez injury withdrawal purely a coincidence

The England defender won’t take part in Sunday’s qualifier after picking up an injury in training

England manager Gareth Southgate says being forced to withdraw Joe Gomez through injury is something “you couldn’t make up if you tried”. 

Gomez, who was involved in a bust up with Raheem Sterling last week, was brought on to a chorus of boos on Thursday at Wembley against Montenegro. 

While his national team-mates quickly expressed their support for the Liverpool defender, he has since succumbed to a minor injury and been omitted from the squad to face Kosovo on Sunday, along with Jordan Henderson.

Southgate however stressed the injury is purely coincidental and that a few days break could do Gomez good after a dramatic week. 

“You couldn’t make it up really if you tried,” Southgate said on Saturday. “He’s absolutely fine. He took a clash of knees [on Friday].

“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.

“We actually ended up having a chuckle this morning at the ridiculousness of him having to go home in the way he did. It’s been a difficult week for him but one that will make him stronger and one that he’s dealt with really well.

“I think now is a good moment for him just to go home for a couple of days, clear his head. The pleasing thing for me is that we’ve got him back on the pitch.

“I think the fact that Raheem put out the tweet that he did the other night was real closure on that whole incident. We get Raheem back on the pitch tomorrow.

“We won the match on Thursday and we can now just look forwards.”

England sealed their spot at Euro 2020 with a convincing 7-0 win over Montenegro with Sterling set to return for the Three Lions after being suspended for that game following the incident involving Gomez.

Kosovo coach Bernard Challandes is less than happy to see the Manchester City star returning, joking the only way to stop him is to break his legs. 

Southgate’s side have won their past two games by a combined scoreline of 13-0 and they’ll once again be hard stop in front of goal on Sunday.

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