Raheem Sterling (R). (Xinhua/He Canling/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

London, Nov 12 : Footballer Raheem Sterling's altercation with national teammate Joe Gomez could have been handled better by England manager Gareth Southgate, feels former defender Rio Ferdinand.

Sterling will miss Thursday's Euro 2020 Qualifier match against Montenegro following a heated argument with Liverpool's Gomez during the Reds' 3-1 Premier League victory at Anfield on Sunday.

In a statement, Football Association announced on Monday: "We can confirm Raheem Sterling will not be considered for England's EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro as a result of a disturbance in a private team area at St. George's Park today. He will remain with the squad." Ex-England and Manchester United international Ferdinand said Sterling was left to dry out in the heat and that the matter should have been handled internally.

"Now Raheem is left to defend himself from all of the haters that had their keyboards turned off due to him becoming a very worthy ambassador for the English game," Ferdinand wrote in a Facebook post.

"If this was a terrible incident then I would be all for public shaming and discipline. But for this 'throat grab' that we are TOLD it's for, I can't understand it.

"Gareth would no doubt have seen worse many times during his time as a player and manager. I just feel this could and should have been handled better to support the player and not hang him out to dry." According to The Guardian, emotions were still running high on Monday afternoon following Liverpool's 3-1 win over Manchester City 24 hours earlier and the title rivalry spilled over into the England camp.

City's Sterling and Liverpool's Gomez, who were involved in a heated clash towards the end of the match at Anfield, reportedly came together again in a physical confrontation at the team's training camp on Monday.

England coach Gareth Southgate said: "We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday." "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," he added.

Sterling has been in exceptional form for England in recent times, scoring eight goals and providing five assists during the Euro 2020 qualification to date.

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