Raheem Sterling’s training ground bust-up with Joe Gomez has dominated the pre-match build-up to England’s clash with Montenegro.
Gareth Southgate dropped the Manchester City forward after a fracas in which he attempted to grab the Liverpool defender in a headlock.
Tensions had boiled over from Sunday’s game between their respective clubs at Anfield.
However, Southgate’s decision to axe this campaign’s top scorer has been met with a mixed reception.
Many feel he overreacted and that Sterling losing it with an opponent is part and parcel of the game. Unsurprisingly, that’s the view held by Roy Keane.
Speaking on ITV ahead of the Three Lions’ 1000th game, Keane dismissed the incident as “fisticuffs”.
By publicly chastising Sterling, Southgate therefore “had to talk about it for two or three days”.
Back in the good old days, players could fight in the lobby of the team hotel at 4am, as Keane recalled he did with Peter Schmeichel while at Manchester United.
“I’m not disagreeing with what Gareth’s done, he probably knows more than us,” Keane said.
'I've had a fight with @Pschmeichel1 in the hotel. It was 4 in the morning, there weren't many people around…'— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 14, 2019
Roy Keane discusses the Sterling/Gomez altercation
📱https://t.co/hKq8sWvATe#england1000 #ENGMON #ITVFootball #ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/5ebptwHvnC
“From my own experience, I had a fight with a player, Peter Schmeichel, in a hotel.
“Obviously, we were in the lobby at about four o’clock in the morning, there wasn’t many people around.
“We got pulled by the manager and he said we were both a disgrace. To be fair to Peter, he apologised.”
You bet he did. The Irishman added:
“We moved on, it never affected us as teammates or wanting the same thing. And also when I hear about the PR side of it where players have a bust-up then have to apologise to the group. I don’t get all that side of it.
“If you have a bust-up with somebody, why are you apologising to your teammates?
“It’s all part of the game and generally speaking, when lads do have a bit of a bust-up, they end up pretty fine afterwards, because sometimes you’ve got to clear the air and there’s tension involved.”
The game’s gone, hasn’t it Roy?
The former United midfielder also detailed the incident in his 2014 biography, The Second Half.
In that extract, as printed in the Irish Independent, he said he gave the goalkeeper a black eye after head butting him.
It all makes Sterling and Gomez’s clash sound rather tame.