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Monday, July 15, 2024

Gareth Southgate explains why he won’t cave to calls for mass England changes

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Gareth Southgate says England must be “very careful not to throw everything out the window” amid widespread calls for personnel changes against Slovakia.

The Three Lions can book a quarter-final date with Switzerland should they emerge victorious in Gelsenkirchen, but the mood around England’s camp has been deflated after lacklustre displays in the group stage.

England did win Group C ahead of Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia but won just one of their three games, scoring two goals. Southgate’s decision to start Trent Alexander-Arnold and then Conor Gallagher in midfield has been questioned, particularly as the latter was then only afforded 45 minutes against Slovenia before being hooked for Kobbie Mainoo.

The Manchester United teenager is expected to be the only player to come into the side against Slovakia, despite calls for Cole Palmer and Anthony Gordon to start and freshen things up in England’s forward line.

Speaking to reporters, Southgate suggested minimal changes were the best course of action regardless of England’s struggles – stark contrast from the approach of Italy boss Luciano Spalletti, who made six changes to try and galvanise his side against Switzerland in an eventual 2-0 defeat.

“A team is never quite as poor as people might think, and never quite as good as people might think,” Southgate said.

“You’re probably about five per cent off where you’d like to be. Therefore you’ve got to be very careful not to throw everything out the window, lose things you’re doing well and lose continuity and the confidence that comes from players playing together and the understanding that comes with that.

“You have to ignore external advice and be assured in what you’re doing. Equally, we’ve had some players who have come in and had a big impact from the bench.

England’s strength in depth has been highlighted on numerous occasions, with Southgate pointing to the importance of having good players to come on and change the course of the game.

“Our substitutions in all of the matches have had a big impact, and we’re mindful people are pushing for places, there’s competition, we need that strength in depth,” he continued.

“The squad are very together. they’re training well, that’s pushing the starting team that’s been in place. The other players have to be ready; you might need five or six changes tomorrow, that’s over half the team now.

“It’s important that when players come on, they perform as the guys did the other night.”

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