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'I had a fight with Schmeichel and it wasn't an issue!' - Sterling bust-up overblown, claims Keane

goal.com, 14 November 2019, 14:55
A former Manchester United midfielder jumped to the defence of the winger ahead of England's Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro

Raheem Sterling's bust-up with Joe Gomez on England duty earlier this week was blown out of proportion, according to Roy Keane, who recalls a similar altercation he had with Peter Schmeichel at Manchester United.

Sterling was left out of England's matchday squad to face Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday night after an incident at St George’s Park earlier this week.

The Manchester City star clashed with Gomez after reporting for international duty, leaving the Liverpool defender with a scratch below his right eye.

The two men squared up to one another on the pitch last Sunday during Liverpool's 3-1 Premier League win over City at Anfield, with tensions boiling over into the England camp the next day.

Former United midfielder Keane has weighed in on the pair's quarrel ahead of England's latest Euro 2020 qualifier, insisting people have made "a bigger deal of it than it really is".

"Speaking from experience, having been a manager seeing players having fisticuffs, and I’ve had it myself as a player, I think they’ve made a bigger deal of it than it really is," Keane told ITV Sport.

"It’s all part of the game. We’re quick to criticise players for not caring, obviously, Raheem is upset about whatever happened the previous day.

"I’m not patting him on the back for going at one of his team-mates but I think Gareth could have played it down easily, saying ‘it’s no big deal, we move on.’"

When asked if he thought Southgate was right to drop Sterling for his actions, Keane expressed his belief that disagreements in the dressing room are "all part of the game", referencing an incident he was involved in while on United's books.

"I personally don’t think so, but I’m not disagreeing with what Gareth has done because he knows more than us," he added.

"From my own experience - I had a fight with Peter Schmeichel in a hotel lobby, to be fair it was about four o’clock in the morning and there weren’t many people around, we got pulled by the manager who told us we were both a disgrace. To be fair to Peter, he apologised and we moved on.

"But it never affected us as team-mates or wanting the same thing. When I see the PR side of it where players have to apologise to the group, I don’t get it. If you have a bust-up with somebody, why are you apologising to your team-mates? It’s all part of the game. Sometimes players have to clear the air."

England can qualify for next summer's European Championships by securing a draw or a win over Montenegro on Thursday, before wrapping up their qualifying campaign away at Kosovo on Sunday.

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