Gareth Southgate said he took ultimate responsibility for the decision to axe Raheem Sterling. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

BURTON ON TRENT – England manager Gareth Southgate said he took ultimate responsibility for the decision to axe Raheem Sterling from the team for Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier but expressed concern about leaks from inside his camp.

Sterling was dropped from the squad to face Montenegro at Wembley after a clash with Joe Gomez at the St. George's Park training ground.

The pair had squared off at Anfield on Sunday where Sterling's Manchester City were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool, with Gomez coming on as a late substitute.

Southgate had said in a statement on Monday that his decision had been backed by the “agreement of the entire squad”.

But the England manager made clear the decision was one he took responsibility for.

“I have discussions with all of my staff and the leadership group but ultimately I am the manager,” he said.

“It is not for me to discuss the details of the incident, there is nothing to be gained from that. In the end I have to find the right solution for the group. That's a difficult line, you try to be fair when dealing with all players. I won't always get that right but I am the manager,” added Southgate.

Several versions of the event have appeared in the British media and Southgate sounded frustrated by the leaks.

“In my view we are moving forward now, there seems to be information passed around, which is a consequence of the England football team.

“That is difficult and is something we need to think about. The team gets out, information gets out, I have to deal with that. Every player has had the opportunity to speak to me if they wanted to,” he said. 

Reuters