Gareth Southgate defiant on his selection of defenders despite more Harry Maguire woes for England – Sky Sports

  • September 27, 2022

Gareth Southgate defends selection of players not playing for their clubs following England’s 3-3 draw with Germany: “What are we meant to do, not pick Luke Shaw because he’s not playing much for his club?”
Tuesday 27 September 2022 09:19, UK
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Gareth Southgate remained defiant in his backing of Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire but said he would consider dropping experienced players if the situation became “untenable”.
England came from behind to lead Germany 3-2 in the second half of their final game before the World Cup, before eventually drawing 3-3 as Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane scored for Southgate’s side.
It was looking bleak for the confidence-hit hosts when Maguire errors had led to an Ilkay Gundogan converted penalty and a fantastic goal from Kai Havertz but somehow from 2-0 down England fought back with a four-minute double from the impressive Shaw and Mount.
Despite losing their first-team places at Manchester United, both Shaw and Maguire featured in both Nations League games for England, with Maguire playing every minute of the encounters with Italy and Germany.
Asked about sticking with his trusted players, Southgate said: “That’s always going to be a challenge, especially regarding how much football they’ve had.
“I know everyone will focus on Harry, but there were some very important moments Harry delivered during the two matches.
“Luke was another example of someone who is an outstanding footballer, so what do we do? Not pick Luke Shaw because he’s not playing enough football or do we pick a player who can do what you saw tonight?
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“That’s always going to raise debate, but I think in these moments we’ve got to back our best and our most experienced players, unless we’re in a situation where it’s almost untenable and impossible to pick them.”
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England shipping three goals at home is hardly the perfect preparation for a World Cup that is now less than two months away. However, Southgate is not entertaining the idea of making any drastic changes to his defensive structure ahead of the tournament.
“I don’t think the system was responsible for any of the goals,” he added.
“I think that’s clear. So we were a bit naïve on the counter for the second, and the first and the third are individual errors. So in the end what pleased me was the threat we looked playing in that system.
“People are going to have an opinion, but I think it’s the best way for us.
“I have to accept there’s going to be a huge amount of noise, there has been, around individual and team selections, but if I’m going to be wishy-washy, change my mind, and not give us the best chance of winning, then it’s pointless me doing it. I think the players are committed to it, they know the more we play it the more comfortable we’ll be.
“I think there were some positive signs across the two games with it.”
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Southgate’s side were already relegated from Nations League Group A3 and they have now failed to win for six games in a row for the first time in 29 years. Playing under such pressure and in the backdrop of a losing run isn’t entirely a bad thing according to Southgate, who admitted his team organised a meeting without him to discuss their current malaise in form.
“They asked if they can have a meeting on their own to talk things through,” he said.
“That for me was such a positive sign. At some clubs that’s not a good sign! But they talked through what they wanted to do with me. The best teams have a core of players who drive things. there’s more of those conversations that go on – when eating, having treatment you can’t be involved in as a staff so to have the right messages filtering through is crucial. That’s one example of how they’ve dealt with it.
“That was keeping people on track. ‘We’re on board with what we been asked to do, we need to stay calm…’ we’ve got players who have experienced moments like this with England, not so many now, so they’re all learning together.
“We weren’t going to rip things up tonight and make eight changes and throw things up in the air, we believe in what we’re doing, we’ve got to stick with what we’re doing. The players took that on board… we’d been hoping that type of thing would happen. The true test of team spirit is when there’s a bit of adversity. Having difficult conversations, that’s far more important.”
The next competitive games for both England and Germany will be at this winter’s World Cup.
Gareth Southgate is expected to name his 26-man squad for Qatar 2022 on October 20, which will be well before FIFA’s deadline of Sunday November 13.
England face Iran in their opening World Cup group game on November 21 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha – the same venue where Germany begin their Qatar 2022 campaign as they face Japan on November 23.
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