England recall after 4 years closed injury chapter – Gomez

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has revealed the “psychological toll” his 2020 injury took on his career and how his return to the England setup four years on has finally “closed that chapter.”

The 26-year-old sustained a season-ending knee problem during a training session in November 2020 that required surgery and began a prolonged absence from the international setup that only ended last week with his recall for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium later this month.

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Gomez steadily rebuilt his career and has made 41 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this season.

After training with the England squad for the first time since that injury on Tuesday, Gomez spoke at St George’s Park a day later.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have a psychological toll,” he said.

“I left in an ambulance quite abruptly from the training pitch. It meant a lot to me. Just even yesterday, doing the warm up. It was nice to feel like I could close that chapter, not to be over dramatic.

“Everyone gets injured, it is part of the game but it being so sudden, the way it happened, just leaving and never really getting the chance to come back was tough to deal with. It has meant a lot just to be in the mix, to be with the boys and close that chapter for me personally.

“At that time, I was probably 22 or so and being away for so long, naturally everyone gets older, you get a different outlook and perspective. I am appreciative of that side of the journey and I can use that to understand that there’s a lot going on.

“Obviously it is a massive privilege and it comes with its pressures, playing for England. But also understanding you’ve got to be grateful to be here. You don’t have to be here. It is a big privilege.

“Gareth has been good with me. I was with Gareth all the way through the [under] 21s and he picked me for my debut. That was nice to reunite with him and be back doing what I’m meant to be doing. Gareth’s great in that sense on an individual basis, keeping in touch and speaking to the players.”

Gomez has also received fervent support from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who used a post-match interview following their 1-1 draw with Manchester City to plead with Southgate to pick the centre-back: “Joe Gomez, Gareth, honestly.”

“I obviously didn’t see it live,” Gomez said about that incident. “The gaffer at the club is the gaffer. He is one of a kind and I obviously owe a lot to him. The biggest influence on my career, definitely.

“It is nice to have that support from the manager. I definitely didn’t ask him to do it! But he’s obviously been a massive influence on me, not just as a player but as a person. That was nice.”

Gomez added that he was targeting a trophy-winning send-off for Klopp and a place in Southgate’s final 23-man squad for Euro 2024.

“Yeah that’s the aim,” he said. “No matter the period, the manager announcing that he’s leaving plays a part in things and the whole view towards the rest of the season but it was always the same, the application won’t have changed.

“You want to win every game, every footballer does I guess and that won’t have changed from when he signed his renewal to when he said he was leaving.

“We obviously appreciate him massively but nothing has changed — everyone wants to do well and you can only do that by taking one at a time. You can’t look beyond that. It is highly competitive and it is not going to be easy but all we can do is focus on what’s ahead.”