‘Let’s make history’ – Southgate on Euros, England’s young stars and more

Daily News
17 Min Read
‘Let’s make history’ – Southgate on Euros, England’s young stars and more

Gareth Southgate has set a challenge to England’s new crop of young stars, suggesting some of them could make his final squad for Euro 2024 as the Three Lions attempt to make history this summer.

Preparation for next month’s tournament in Germany is already in full swing with Southgate naming a provisional 33-strong training group that will be cut to 26 players on June 7.

The Three Lions boss has already made some tough decisions, leaving the likes of Marcus Rashford and vice-captain Jordan Henderson out of the initial squad.

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Southgate explains why he has left Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson out of his provisional squad for the Euro 2024 and why he has named a larger group ahead of his final decision

Those high-profile omissions have opened the door for several youngsters to feature on the international scene. Liverpool duo Curtis Jones and Jarell Quansah have been included for the first time, as has Crystal Palace midfielder Adam Wharton. Fellow uncapped players Jarrad Branthwaite and James Trafford have also been called up.

England captain Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Anthony Gordon and Bukayo Saka were selected despite recent injury concerns. Also named in the squad was left-back Luke Shaw, whose last appearance was three months ago.

Speaking from England’s training base at St George’s Park, Southgate explained his thinking to Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett in an exclusive interview…

England’s 33-player provisional squad in full

  • Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), James Trafford (Burnley)
  • Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
  • Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace)
  • Forwards: Jude Bellingham, (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

RD: How hard is it to tell players they’re not part of the group?

Southgate: “If I’m honest, we’ve always had to make difficult calls at times. Whether that’s players that have been with England for a long time or going back to when I started.

“Some of them have been super players for us, really important players for us, but others have nudged ahead of them in the pecking order.

“You still need experience, you still need that collective team, but there’s also got to be an opportunity for young players when they’re doing well.”

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RD: Could you lose the camaraderie within the squad by dropping senior players?

Southgate: “Look, they’re phone calls I don’t like making, but they’re much harder for the players to receive.

“We do always have to have that balance because it’s being a team that has made the team progress in the way it has, and when you change too many players or you lose some of that core, then that is the risk you run.

“Hendo is a little bit short physically since his injury and despite the fantastic leadership and personality he brings, he’s still going to need to be on the pitch to deliver. With Marcus, I just think there are players in that area of the pitch who have had stronger seasons, so they are tough calls but that’s the job.”

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Rob Dorsett provides more details behind Rashford’s omission from Southgate’s provisional England squad for Euro 2024

RD: How likely is Luke Shaw to feature? Is the knockout stage more realistic if England get there?

Southgate: “It was a difficult call to make. It’s possible you could take one wildcard, but if he’s only fit enough for the knockout stage, he wouldn’t have had a match for a long time and then you’re trying to find a level of fitness in one of the biggest games in world football, so I think we would probably need to see him earlier than that.”

RD: How worried are you about Harry Kane’s fitness issues given he missed Bayern Munich’s last game of the season?

Southgate: “Our information from Bayern and Harry was it was a sensible decision for him not to play the last game of the season, but we’re expecting him to train as soon as he arrives with us.”

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Southgate expects England captain Harry Kane to be fit for Euro 2024 and admits Jude Bellingham will require rest ahead of the tournament

RD: Jude Bellingham is playing in the Champions League final. How important is it to manage him?

Southgate: “It’s important for him to get a bit of a breather so we wouldn’t be looking to play him in the final friendly. Given the intensity of the season, the incredible season he’s had, and given he’s going longer than anybody else, then the physical and psychological freshness of that week following the Champions League final is going to be really important for him.”

RD: What’s the thinking behind naming so many youngsters in this provisional squad?

Southgate: “It’s simple and I always use an Arsene Wenger quote here because I think he’s a wise guy – wiser than me! He always said to me you should manage as if you’re going to be somewhere forever but knowing you can be sacked tomorrow. I think that’s how I’ve always tried to operate.

“Yes, we’ve got to focus on the squad and who might come in, but then this is an opportunity to work with some younger players and give them experiences of being with England.

“Maybe some of them can force their way into this squad, and maybe some of them are for further down the line when the team and they will benefit. There’s no reason to alter that way of working.”

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Having started the season in the Championship with Blackburn and then impressing at Crystal Palace – Adam Wharton has now been included in Southgate’s provisional squad

RD: The core group of players is the same, though?

Southgate: “Everybody likes to talk about the new players and it’s a brilliant moment for them and their families to be called up.

“Then things settle and you look at the likely starters and they’ve got a fairly large number of caps now. In most cases this will be their third tournament so they’ve got good experience as well, but it’s good to be excited about young players coming through.”

Gareth Southgate

Image: Euro 2024 will be Southgate’s fourth major international tournament as England manager

RD: Is this the stage when you start getting excited?

Southgate: “We always relish the competition and trying to prove ourselves. We’re trying to make history so that’s hugely exciting.

“You’re in football to play football matches and manage football matches, so as much as there are other aspects of this job that I love, in the end, it’s about being in the tournaments.

“Tournaments are what define the team and it’s an opportunity to make history, so why wouldn’t we be massively excited about what’s coming up?”

England Group

Image: England face Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in Group C at this summer’s tournament in Germany

England’s Euro 2024 schedule

Southgate’s side face a replay of their Euro 2020 semi-final against the Danes in Group C, having won 2-1 after extra-time in July 2021 before eventually losing to Italy in the final.

England’s first game on Sunday June 16 sees them travel to Gelsenkirchen to take on Serbia, who finished second in qualifying Group G behind Hungary, and who they have not faced since their split with Montenegro in 2006.

They then take on Denmark four days later in Frankfurt before rounding off their group on Tuesday June 25 in Cologne against Slovenia, who they previously beat in a must-win final group game at World Cup 2010 to reach the knockout stages.

Here are England’s Euro 2024 fixtures, as well as their potential route through the knockout stages…

Euro 2024 groups in full

  • Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland
  • Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania
  • Group C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England
  • Group D: Poland, Netherlands, Austria, France
  • Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine
  • Group F:Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic

What’s next for England? The key dates

All times BST

Monday June 3 – International friendly, England vs Bosnia and Herzegovina at St James’ Park, kick-off 7.45pm

Friday June 7 – International friendly, England vs Iceland at Wembley, kick-off 7.45pm

Friday June 7 – Final 26-player squad submitted to UEFA

Saturday June 8 – Final 26-player squad announced

Monday June 10 – England squad fly to Germany

England’s potential Euro 2024 route

Group stage

The top two in each group plus the four best third-placed teams go through

Sunday June 16 – Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 – Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt – kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 – Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne – kick-off 8pm UK time)

England’s potential route to the final as group winners…

If all results at Euro 2024 go with the world rankings England’s opponents in the knockout rounds would be…

Round of 16: Sunday June 30 – England vs Austria/Romania/Turkey (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen)

Quarter-final: Saturday July 6 – England vs Italy (Merkur Spiel-Arena, Dusseldorf)

Semi-final: Wednesday July 10 – France vs England; kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

Final: Sunday July 14 – Spain vs England; kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

England’s potential route to the final as group runners-up…

If England finish second in Group C but all other results at Euro 2024 go with the world rankings, the Three Lions’ opponents in the knockout rounds would be…

Round of 16: Saturday June 29 – Germany vs England (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

Quarter-final: Friday July 5 – Spain vs England (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

Semi-final: Tuesday July 9 – England vs Netherlands; kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Final: Sunday July 14 – England vs France; kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

Round of 16

England beat Malta on Friday at Wembley - but Gareth Southgate is hoping his players show a better level away to North Macedonia on Monday

Image: England are looking to win the European Championship for the first time

If England finish first in Group C…

Sunday June 30 : Group C winners vs third-placed side in Group D/E/F (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen)

If England finish second in Group C…

Saturday June 29 – Group A winners vs Group C runners-up (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

If England finish as one of four best third-place teams…

One of:

Monday July 1 – Group F winner vs third-placed side from Group A/B/C (Waldstadion, Frankfurt)

Tuesday July 2 – Group E winners vs third-placed side from Group A/B/C/D (Allianz Arena, Munich)

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Geraint Hughes analyses the Euro 2024 draw and the pressure Southgate is under ahead of the tournament

Quarter-finals

If England finish first in Group C and win round of 16 game…

Saturday July 6 (Merkur Spiel-Arena, Dusseldorf)

If England finish second in Group C and win round of 16 game…

Friday July 5 (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

If England finish as one of four best third-place teams and win round of 16 game…

One of:

Friday July 5 (Volksparkstadion, Hamburg)

Saturday July 6 (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

Semi-finals

If England finish first in Group C, win round of 16 game and win quarter-final…

Wednesday July 10 – kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

If England finish second in Group C, win round of 16 game and win quarter-final…

Tuesday July 9 – kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

If England finish as one of four best third-place teams, win round of 16 game and win quarter-final…

One of:

Tuesday July 9 – kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Wednesday July 10 – kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

And finally, the final…

Sunday July 14 – kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

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