England striker Daniel Sturridge dismissed suggestions on Tuesday that he had been sulking when his rival Marcus Rashford scored his first international goal against Australia last month.
Manchester United teenager Rashford scored within 138 seconds of his debut in the 2-1 win over Australia and Sturridge, unable to play due to a calf injury, was pictured apparently looking less than impressed behind the dug-out.
But the Liverpool forward said that he had merely been reading text messages related to a charity event organised by his young people’s foundation, The Sturridge Foundation.
Asked if he had winced when he saw the photographs, Sturridge told reporters at England’s Euro 2016 training base in Chantilly: “Not at all.”
“It was my charity event, my first annual charity event, in Birmingham that night. My family had put the event on and they were texting me the whole night, and phoning me.”
“I wasn’t sat on the bench. I was behind the bench, not watching, because I was on my phone at that point. Of course it’s important to watch my teammates play.
“But if I receive a text message about my charity event, of course I’m going to reply to it, because that’s important to me, just as much as it is here.”
“There is no disrespect there at all. The manager (Roy Hodgson) came and said to me he had no problem with it.”
With captain Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy all ahead of him in the pecking order, Sturridge is not expected to start England’s opening Group B game against Russia in Marseille on Saturday.
“When you go into a tournament like this, of course I want to play,” he said.
“Nobody wants to sit on the bench. But it’s down to the manager to choose his team and I have to understand if on that day, he chooses somebody else.”