Raheem Sterling might not stay available for his team’s quarterfinal match against France as the England striker has flown back home from England’s World Cup camp in Qatar. Sterling also missed England’s Round of 16 match against Senegal. The English Association confirmed the Chelsea forward was left out of Sunday's 3-0 win over Senegal to deal with "a family matter".
While English FA has not elaborated on the family matter that has forced Sterling’s return, reports in the British media have claimed that the Chelsea forward has flown back home because his home was broken into by armed intruders on Saturday night. It’s also reported that Sterling’s family was inside the house when the intruders broke in.
"At the moment clearly the priority is for him to be with his family. We're going to support that and leave him to have as much time as he needs," said England manager Gareth Southgate. "At the moment it's a situation he needs time with his family to deal with and I don't want to put him under any pressure with that. Sometimes football isn't the most important thing and family should come first."
"It didn't impact the team selection," Southgate said. "I spent a lot of time with Raheem this morning. We are obviously mindful of him being allowed space and his privacy respected. He's heading home to England. It's not ideal for the group ahead of a big game but it pales into insignificance. The individual is more important than the group in that situation.”
Notably, Sterling has been a key player in England’s lineup since Southgate took over. However, the Chelsea forward’s unavailability might not be an issue for the Three Lions as Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden have shown great form so far in the World Cup. Saka and Rashford have each scored three times in the tournament, while Foden provided two assists in the routine win over Senegal.