England players have admitted to having security concerns on their mind as they prepare for Saturday’s game against France. The World Cup quarter-final against the defending champions could go a long way towards to deciding the outcome of the tournament itself.
But even with Raheem Sterling set to return to the camp today after his home was burgled last week, worries remain that somebody else could become a victim of a copycat attack.
Midfielder Kalvin Phillips admitted: “Once one player goes through it, there is always that thought in the back of your mind that it might happen to you. Or it could happen to somebody else.
“It’s not a really nice feeling when you are so far from home and you have family at home. But there’s not really much we can do about it.”
The FA insisted that players had been briefed before the tournament about added security, but Phillips denied all knowledge about such a presentation – “not that I know of,” he said.
Sterling will return on Friday and is set to take part in the final training session before the clash with France in the Al Bayt Stadium.
An FA statement confirmed: ““Raheem Sterling will return to England’s World Cup base in Qatar.
“The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad in Al Wakrah on Friday ahead of the quarter-final against France.”
Phillips added: “Raheem feels good enough to join back up with us and we’re very happy that his family are okay and he’s alright to come back and join us.”
Pointedly, Southgate said after the win that Sterling’s decision to fly home had not caused a selection issue – suggesting that one of his most senior players with 81 caps was already outside his thoughts with regard to the starting line-up.
However, the fact that Southgate admits he had a “long chat” with the player before he set off back to England is a strong suggestion that he is still keen to have him as part of the squad.