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Every word from Southgate as key England decisions and injury concerns addressed

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Gareth Southgate has explained some of the major decisions he made with regards to his provisional England squad ahead of Euro 2024. 

The Three Lions boss has named a 33-man panel that will convene in the postseason before whittling it down to 26 players.

There were some big exclusions from the squad, including Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier and Ben Chilwell, while there are a number of injury concerns hanging over the team that will have to be assessed over the next few weeks.

Southgate addressed these topics, as well as a lack of leadership and experience in some areas of the team. We’ve got just about every word from his press conference on Tuesday.

When the final squad will be named

“I couldn’t answer that accurately at the moment. Certain pictures will emerge and evolve and other things might need to wait until right at the end.

“I always like to give players as much as clarity as possible, I think that’s helpful in these situations. On this occasion, we’re not able to do that.”

He added: “There’s a lot to think about over the next couple of weeks. I’d have loved to have been cleaner and more definitive but that’s not the situation we’re in.”

Southgate reveals England squad ahead of Euro 2024

Excluding players

“The 33 isn’t quite a fair definition (of England’s 33 best players), because we’re taking a longer squad with some young players to have a look at as well,” said Southgate. “Hendo has given himself every chance. The determining factor is the injury he picked up around the last camp.

“He has missed five weeks and just hasn’t been able to get the intensity in the games since then. He’s a fantastic professional and that was a really difficult call to make because he has been so important, so supportive in my time here.

“I have to say, all the boys when I’ve spoken to — Ben (Chilwell), Marcus (Rashford), Jordan (Henderson) — they were incredibly professional and they dealt with the disappointment really well.”

He added: “I haven’t had time to phone any of the ones we are bringing in. My priority always in these moments is to deal with the players that unfortunately haven’t made the squad.

“The nice calls are of course lovely to make. In those moments they are not the priority and I can pick those players up over the week.

“I would imagine and hope they are hugely excited about what’s in front of them.”

Marcus Rashford

“These are difficult calls,” said the England manager. “We’re talking about very good players who have been an important part of what we have done over a number of years.

“With Marcus, I just feel that other players in that area of the pitch have had better seasons. It’s as simple as that.”

Jordan Henderson

“He’ll be a miss, there’s no question about that,” said Southgate. “He’s an exceptional individual, a fantastic human being and he’s been in that leadership role since I took charge.

“Equally, in the last game we played, we had a lot of our senior players missing and we made Declan (Rice) captain. Him and one or two others, with that space, really rose to that challenge and that’s what you hope to see. It’s what we have to challenge other people to do.

“We’ve got young players with a lot of caps, there’s no reason why young players can’t lead. The dynamic will be slightly different but you’re giving space for other people to mature and develop.”

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Harry Kane’s fitness

“We think so,” Southgate answered when asked if Harry Kane will recover from a back issue in time for Euro 2024. “He’s obviously missed the end of the season with a back issue.

“But our understanding from our end and from the medical team at Bayern is that that should not be a problem once we get back into training.”

Giving young players a chance

“Everybody has a chance,” he responded. “There are definitely some players that we wanted to see. The reason for the longer squad – we were in a similar situation before the last Euros — more time is going to help us make better decisions and might help us give a better balanced squad.

“There are some injury issues that are very apparent and obvious. There are some that are a little bit more nuanced that we don’t have all the information on. And sometimes you need to work with the players and see the players to see how they react physically to training.

“This has been as complicated a group as I can remember picking and we’ve had quite a few complicated ones! But we can make better decisions by giving ourselves more time and we’ve got time.”

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Luke Shaw

“I have to say he’s up against it,” said Southgate. “He’s missed a lot of football.

“We’re giving him a bit longer than we might have done because he’s our first choice in that position. I’m not sure what’s realistic at this moment in time.

“I’ve talked with him, our medical team is liaising with Manchester United very closely but he’s a long shot.”

Lack of experience in midfield

“Clearly you’d like to have experienced players and it’s still possible that we can play in a way where we have that,” said Southgate. “But we need to see some of these younger guys as well.

“They’ve had good seasons, we can learn more about them and we feel they are the best positions at this moment in time to fulfil the roles that we’re talking about.”

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Picking 12 forwards in the squad list

“I wouldn’t be obsessed with where we’ve positioned the players (on the squad list) because some of them could be in different areas of the pitch,” Southgate said. “I write the list and these guys put a heading on it.

“If we just had forwards and backs, it would all be a lot easier. We don’t know where we will need to cut, this is the issue. If we picked it tomorrow, we might end up taking a dozen defenders because we’ve got so many questions.

“We’d obviously rather not do that. In another couple of weeks, we’ll be much clearer on a number of issues. That’s why there are opportunities for everybody.

“You can take too many forwards and have too many options in certain areas of the pitch and, with forwards, you’ve got to give them love and make them feel special. If you’ve got too many, that can make it complicated.”

Leadership

“We’ve moved away a little bit from a defined leadership group for the very reason that I think we’ve got so many people who lead in different ways and have a voice,” Southgate said. “Sometimes, when you limit that group, it means that others don’t step forward, they defer to a hierarchy.

“We’ve got too many good influences around the group. I want input from various areas. There will be certain things that I consult with a smaller group and that would be normal for any coach of any team.

“But I have noticed occasions where there’s deferential behaviour. We don’t want that. We need people to step forward, we encourage it and we’ve allowed that space over the last year or so.”

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Eric Dier

“He’s played very well for Bayern and I know that they are very, very happy with him,” said the England manager.

“We think he’s just behind the other guys we’ve selected.

“We watch every game. He obviously played well in some big matches in the Champions League as well, so we were conscious of that. But we’ve assessed that across the board.”

Where Phil Foden could play

“Phil has played off the right, off the left. I think the key with Phil is where he ends up, not his starting position,” said Southgate. “When he plays on the left with City, sometimes he stays wide but very often he’s allowed to drift, and that’s always the same with us.

“Then, there is where the player has to defend. Jude (Bellingham) has played as a No 10 all season and sometimes has defended on the left wing for Real Madrid. So it’s about where these players arrive and where you allow them to drift that’s the key.

“If you spoke to all of our forwards, we never pin them to a touchline. That’s not how we work, so there is that freedom.

“It’s obvious how Phil has stepped up in big games in the brilliant season he’s had. Not only when big players have been out, but when he’s been playing alongside them as well. You want him in those central areas, as you do with one or two others.

“We have to find the best way of making that happen.”

Injury concerns

“I’d have to go through the list. There are a significant number (of players that are carrying injuries) and that will be apparent to you looking at the players that have missed the last few games of the season and the players that have only just come back,” he said.

“We’ve got an important physical challenge in that some players are going to need more work, but we’ve got to make sure we push at the right times and get them the minutes they need in the games. And other players don’t need much at all and only need refreshing.

“We’ve navigated that well in our previous end-of-season tournaments and that’s the challenge we’ve got this time.”

He added: “We’ve never had so many unknown situations.

“We’ve had tournaments where we have taken players that we’re pretty certain would be back for a certain moment of the tournament. We’ve had tournaments where we’ve had two English teams in the Champions League final and not had players for the games.

“They’re different problems, but we’re used to dealing with it. The key is making the best possible decisions.”

Ben White

“No, as far as I’m aware he’s not available to us,” Southgate said when asked if he had spoken to Arsenal defender Ben White.

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