Gareth Southgate personally went to speak to Joe Gomez and his family to offer extra support at Wembley after he was loudly booed by some supporters, Sky Sports News understands.
Gomez was left devastated by the crowd reaction when he came on for Mason Mount in the 70th minute against Montenegro on Thursday, Sky Sports News has been told, with team-mates also rallying round him in the dressing room after the game.
At first, it was not clear in the stadium whether fans were targetting the Liverpool defender himself or the England manager for his decision to replace an attacking midfielder with Gomez when England were already 6-0 up.
But the boos continued when Gomez initially touched the ball, leaving the 22-year-old in no doubt that he was being targeted for his part in the bust-up with team-mate Raheem Sterling at St George’s Park on Monday.
Gomez is an extremely popular figure inside the England dressing room, and Sky Sports News understands there is widespread bemusement among his international team-mates about why the crowd reacted to him in the way they did.
Gomez was amongst the first England players to leave the changing room after the game, and walked through the mixed zone alongside a senior member of England’s media team.
Sterling himself tweeted after the game, appealing for the England fans to stop the abuse, making it clear that Gomez was entirely blameless in the spat that left him with a scratch under his eye.
Southgate too praised Gomez’s reaction to the provocation from Sterling, saying he had shown admirable restraint and professionalism.
Southgate has indicated Sterling will start the game against Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday night, after he was dropped at Wembley as punishment, as England’s 7-0 victory secure their place at the Euro 2020 finals.
It is thought a number of senior England players are now keen for Gomez to also be given a starting place, to reinforce the image of squad unity, and help the Liverpool man get over one of the most difficult weeks in his career.
‘All it takes is two or three people to start to boo and it spreads very quickly’
Former England defender Danny Mills believes “fierce” club rivalries are to blame for Gomez getting booed by sections of the Wembley crowd.
He told Sky Sports News: “As England, when you come together, it would be ideal if everyone was behind the team and backed them constantly. But we don’t live in a perfect world – that is never ever going to happen.
“The club rivalries are fierce. They are huge. They are intense and all it takes is two or three people to start to boo and it spreads very, very quickly.
“All of a sudden [people think] ‘We can do it. It’s acceptable’. Then all of a sudden you get two hundred or a thousand people booing, and in a game like that where the game is very, very quiet you are going to hear it – and that is what happens.
“If you go back, John Terry has been booed when he has incidents in the past, David Beckham has been booed and had effigies of him being burnt as well.
“I was there when Ashley Cole got his 100th cap and sections of the crowd booed Ashley Cole. A hundred caps for England and people still thought it was acceptable to boo him because clearly they weren’t Ashley Cole fans.
“This is not the first time, it’s not an isolated case and I guarantee at some point in the future it will happen again.”