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England impressed in their European Championship qualifiers, beating both Italy and Ukraine with relative ease. Gareth Southgate does not want to lose the momentum and wants qualification as early as possible.
The England manager will not take it easy in the end-of-season international break. Southgate shared that he will utilize his preferred eleven to secure passage to Germany.
The manager does not believe he will have tired legs on the pitch as the joy of playing for England trumps it all. The former Middlesbrough manager pointed out that playing for the country is an opportunity no player wants to decline.
“We should always pick our strongest possible squad,” he said.
“We’re representing England. Caps have to be earned. Harry Kane won’t want to miss England matches in the summer – I’ll tell you that now. There’s physical freshness and there’s psychological freshness.
“And I think psychology is key. They’ll get a break before they come and we’ve talked with them about that to make that work in the best possible way. If we don’t select certain players it sends the wrong message to the group.
“Then what’s to stop others pulling out and you could end up with a shambles pretty quickly.”
The group over the individual
England fans will be pleased with their performances against Italy and Ukraine. However, this period saw withdrawals from Marcus Rashford, Nick Pope, Mason Mount, Reece James and Phil Foden due to injury.
With Luke Shaw missing due to suspension, numbers in the English camp were severely depleted. Southgate does not want to go through this process again, even if it angers their respective clubs.
“You saw this week if you lose one or two players in the week then very quickly you are short,” Southgate said. “If it’s the summer and everyone has been on holiday for three weeks then it’s hard to call players up.
“This group of players are proud to represent them and I think that comes through in the performances that they deliver. And in terms of the mood, yeah, I think it was important that we showed our hunger again immediately after the World Cup.”
Rashford and Saka in line for 70 games
Premier League managers would not welcome Southgate’s remarks. In a season that already had the World Cup disruption, the Three Lions’ supremo wants to further extend their campaign.
The likes of Rashford, Saka, Rice, Bellingham, Kane and Shaw will be affected most by this decision. The regulars at club and country will be looking at 70+ matches for the 2022/23 campaign.
Add England’s matches with Malta and North Macedonia on June 16 and 19, and it will be over a year without a break for these players. Moreover, this will not leave much for vacations for the Three Lions regulars.
Southgate’s decision can also jeopardize the 2023/24 season’s preparations at the club level. In addition to their recuperation, it will also impact their pre-season preparations.
Clubs are bound to raise their objections but seemingly have nowhere to object. Southgate is correct in his estimation, players psychology will help them through physical fatigue when playing for the country is on the cards.