England’s Raheem Sterling exits the Qatar World Cup prior to France clash

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The Three Lions will only have 24 available players to prepare for its grand battle with France in the World Cup quarter-final on 11 December.

Following their 3-0 thrash over Senegal, England has advanced to the 2022 World Cup's quarter-finals, where they will encounter reigning champion France. The match, which will take place on Sunday, 11 December, will witness Gareth Southgate's tactical ability as he only has 24 players to rotate.

Following Ben White's early exit, Raheem Sterling has become the latest star to leave the Three Lions' training base.

Why did Raheem Sterling leave suddenly?

According to the Guardian, after armed robbers broke into and ransacked Raheem Sterling's Surrey property while his spouse Paige and minor children were inside, Sterling immediately took a flight from Qatar to his home country.

England’s Raheem Sterling exits the Qatar World Cup prior to France clash  Eddie Keogh - The FA

According to a source who spoke to The Sun, the raid netted about £300,000 worth of watches.

‘This was terrifying for her and traumatic for all the family. Raheem will have been beside himself with worry when he heard. To be away when your partner and children are at home when an armed gang breaks in is beyond words.’

According to Sky Sports, the England international was informed of the events of Saturday night and was unable to play in his country's 3-0 victory against Senegal in the World Cup's last 16.

When will Sterling return to Qatar?

Gareth Southgate has been informed by Sterling that he hopes to return for the quarterfinal match against France on December 11. But the Three Lions manager acknowledged that for Sterling or England right now, this isn't a top concern.

A source claims that Sterling will have to 'put his family first':

‘Raheem wanted to return home because he was concerned for his young children. They were at home during the raid. He will come back to Qatar if he can - but he had to put his family first.’

Southgate published after the win over Senegal:

‘We will have to wait and see [if he'll be back to play against France], at the moment, clearly, the priority is for him to be with his family and we're going to support that’.

The manager said that he doesn't want any pressure on Sterling, who has been pivotal in England's performance at international tournaments.

‘I don't know because at the moment it's a situation in which he needs time with his family. I don't want to put him under any pressure. Sometimes football isn't the most important thing and family should come first.’

However, it remains open to question whether the Chelsea star will return to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. A source told Euro Sports:

'Raheem has told everyone, ‘There is no way I’m going anywhere unless I’m 100 percent sure that my family can be kept safe.'
England’s Raheem Sterling exits the Qatar World Cup prior to France clash Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA

Support poured in for Sterling's family

BBC's Gary Lineker tweeted his warmest wishes, writing:

‘Thoughts are with Raheem Sterling and his family after their awful and harrowing ordeal’.

Former England star Stan Collymore described the burglary as ‘truly awful, frightening and callous’.

Harry Kane also offered his thoughts on Sterling's situation, saying:

‘Our thoughts are with him and his family’, he said. ‘It is a private matter with him, but it’s never easy to see one of your teammates and friends have to deal with something like that’.

With his first competition goal, Jordan Henderson gave England the early lead and added:

‘I hope everything's okay with Raheem's family at home. I hope he goes back and he can sort everything out, and hopefully, he can come back, but all our thoughts and support is with him.’
England’s Raheem Sterling exits the Qatar World Cup prior to France clash Eddie Keough - The FA

England to face France in grand battle

On Saturday, the Three Lions will take on France in the quarterfinal, and they are hoping that Sterling will be ready to play against the defending world champions.

‘It’s the biggest test that we can face’, Southgate confessed. ‘They’re world champions, incredible depth of talent, outstanding individual players, very difficult to play against and to score goals against.’

Southgate gushed that facing France will be 'a fantastic challenge' to prepare for:

‘It’s a fantastic challenge, a brilliant game for us to prepare for. The two quarter-finals that are already in place are fantastic, historic football rivalries and great games from the past. A brilliant game for us to be involved with and test ourselves against the very best.’

Read more:

Jordan Pickford's wife Megan says England WAGs are in 'paradise' at Qatar

Arsenal defender Ben White becomes first star to leave England World Cup squad

England at World Cup 2022: Five players dropped from Gareth Southgate's squad

England World Cup 2022 squad: Who's flying to Qatar?

© Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA

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