Gareth Southgate says more players still have chance to break into England squad

Southgate insists more players can still force their way into his thinking
Southgate insists more players can still force their way into his thinking - (Copyright PA Wire)
22:45pm, Fri 09 Oct 2020
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Gareth Southgate insists the door is still open for new players to force their way into his England squad for the European Championships next summer.

The Three Lions boss has handed out eight debuts across the last two fixtures as he continues to cast his eye over the talent at his disposal.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Bukayo Saka, Harvey Barnes and Reece James all picked up their first senior caps in Thursday’s 3-0 friendly win over Wales.

That followed on from debuts for Conor Coady, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in last month’s 0-0 Nations League draw in Denmark.

So, while Southgate admits he should be whittling down his options ahead of the rescheduled Euros next summer, he refused to rule out more players breaking through before then.

“I will never say never because young players these days emerge so quickly and can advance so quickly that they can really shoot themselves up the pecking order,” he said.

“You would imagine we would like to be settled, but we are going to have three games next month and three in March which is going to be complicated as well.

“We feel like we want to narrow down the pool and at the moment we have got a very good idea of what the majority of the squad will look like but there are definitely places up for grabs.

I will never say never because young players these days emerge so quickly and can advance so quickly that they can really shoot themselves up the pecking order

“Somebody like Dominic Calvert-Lewin is showing a real strong case to force his way into our thinking more consistently and yet against Wales was the first time he has been on the pitch for us so that is a prime example of what is possible when form is good.”

While England qualified for the Euro 2020 with a near-perfect record, Southgate admits there are certain tweaks that will be required when entering the finals themselves.

“We are absolutely looking at what is the best way of winning at tournament level,” he added.

“I always remember when I played for Glenn Hoddle we talked about qualifying football and tournament football and they are different challenges and the types of game and standard of opposition is different.

“We recognised that ahead of Russia (the 2018 World Cup) and have felt the same for a reasonable while but there are certain players who are emerging who are helping us to really consolidate that thinking.

“It means in certain positions on the field there will be really, really intense competition for places but we need that.

“The players in the end are going to fight it out whereas a little bit in the 4-3-3 in two or three positions we are quite light of depth and if we have one injury or two injuries we are really short. Part of our thinking is in that depth of talent in all of the positions.”

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