Sterling has started the season in much better form than he endured last term, and picked up two goals and an assist in their 3-0 win over Luton last weekend.
The 28-year-old was an integral part of Southgate’s England as they reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, delayed Euro 2020 final, and quarter-finals at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Yet Southgate has opted not to include him for September’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine and friendly against Scotland.
“We were really pleased with the group”, said Southgate. “To bring Raheem back in, we have to leave someone else out — and on the basis of three [club] games, I don’t think anyone deserves to be left out.
“It is really good to see Raheem start the season so well. He looks fit and hungry, but in those attacking positions behind the nine, we have a lot of competition.”
Southgate was keen to reassert that Sterling’s international career is not necessarily over, and that he missed the previous two England camps in March and June due to injury and then being rested, not because he had been dropped.
The England boss said: “He was not available for the last two, and that has given other people the opportunity to play well and establish themselves in the group. It is a difficult call and Raheem is not particularly happy about it, but he is an excellent player.”
Sterling has earned 82 England caps since making his debut in 2012, and 18 of his 20 international goals have come during Southgate’s seven-year tenure.
England face Ukraine in Wroclaw, Poland, in their fifth Euro 2024 qualifier on Saturday September 9, before visiting Scotland for a friendly celebrating 160 years of the English FA on Tuesday September 12.