When Marcus Rashford scored just minutes into his England debut as Daniel Sturridge looked on evidently frustrated, it appeared the Liverpool striker’s place in the 23-man squad for Euro 2016 was in serious doubt.
Sturridge didn’t exactly look delighted with the 18-year-old’s goal and was later seen texting on his phone rather than watching the match. It certainly didn’t look good for the injury-prone forward and some believed he was set to dropped from this summer’s squad.
However, Roy Hodgson sprung a surprise by selecting both Rashford and Sturridge in his squad for the European Champions alongside fellow attackers Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.
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The 26-year-old was heavily criticised on social media for his actions during their matches against the Socceroos with many calling him ‘selfish’ and ‘not a team player.’
After the match, Hodgson defended his player by telling Sky Sports: "He wasn't on the bench. In an ideal world, you'd want them all to be following the game as closely as I do but this is 2016 and people grow up in a different environment."
And now, Sturridge has explained who he was texting during the friendly at the Stadium of Light.
“That night was my first annual charity event in Birmingham. My family had put the event on and were texting me,” he told reporters.
“I wasn’t sat on the bench, I was behind the bench (because of injury).
"Of course I’m watching the game - it’s important to watch my team-mates play. But if I receive a text message about my charity event of course I’m going to reply.
"That’s important too. I’m trying to do something positive for my community in Birmingham as well as Jamaica.
“Of course, I want my team-mates to do well and there was no disrespect at all. The manager said he had no problem with it.”
Ah, so that explains it.
Sturridge may find himself watching England more than playing over the coming weeks with Kane and Vardy expected to lead the line for the Three Lions with the pair scoring 49 Premier League goals between them last season.
England kick off their campaign against Russia on Saturday night as they aim to progress through their group consisting the Russians, Wales and Slovakia.
While Sturridge may not be handed a place in the starting XI against Russia, he will no doubt have a big part to play in the tournament if England are to reach the latter stages.
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