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Published 21 May 2024 5 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Southgate discusses EUROs training squad

Written by:

Adam Drury

Gareth Southgate reveals the thinking behind his EURO 2024 training squad picks, including first call-ups for Jarell Quansah and Adam Wharton

Read England's training squad in full

On picking a 33-strong squad…

There were definitely some players we wanted to see. We were in a similar situation before EURO 2020 where buying some time could help us make better decisions and might help us pick a more balanced squad. There are some injury issues that are very obvious and others where we don't have all the information. Sometimes you need to work with the players and see how they react physically to training. This has been as complicated a group as I can remember picking. I think we can make better decision by giving ourselves more time.

On the exclusion of Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson…

We're talking about players who are very good and have been an important part of what we've 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. With Jordan, the determining factor is the injury he picked up around the last camp. He's missed five weeks and just hasn't been able to get to the intensity since then. He's a fantastic professional and it was a really difficult call to make because he's been so supportive in my time here. All three boys who were with us last time – including Ben Chilwell – were incredibly professional and took the news really well.

Luke Shaw is aiming to be fit for EURO 2024

On Luke Shaw's chances of getting fit for the EUROs…

He's up against it. He's missed a lot of football. The fact he's been our first choice in that position means we're giving him a bit longer than we might have done and I'm not sure what's realistic at this moment in time. We've talked with him and the medical team are liaising with Manchester United very closely but I'd have to say he's a long shot.

On the lack of experience in midfield…

Clearly you'd like to have experienced players and it's still possible we can play in a way that we have that. But we need to see some of the younger guys as well. They've had good seasons and we can learn more about them. We feel they are the best players at this moment in time to come and fulfil the roles we're talking about in that area. Jordan will be a miss, there's no question about that. He's an exceptional individual and he's been in that leadership role since I took charge. But in our last game we made Declan captain and and him and one or two others I thought really rose to the challenge. We've got a lot of young players with caps and there's no reason why young players can't lead. We've moved away from a defined leadership group because I want input from various areas. 

Adam Wharton has received his first senior call-up
Adam Wharton has received his first senior call-up

On how we will choose the players he cuts for the final squad…

If we picked tomorrow, we might end up picking a dozen defenders because we've got so many questions but obviously we'd rather not do that. In another couple of weeks we will be much clearer on a number of issues. There are opportunities for everybody. I think you can take too many forwards. You've got to give them love and make them feel special and if you've got too many it can be complicated. There's a lot to think about. I'd have loved to it to be more definitive now.

On his options to start on the left wing…

Anthony [Gordon] missed the last game with injury so he's one we need to check on. I think with Phil [Foden] the key is where he ends up, not his starting position. When he plays on the left with man City he sometimes stays wide but very often he's allowed to drift and it's always been the same with us. Then you have to think about where they defend. Jude has played as a number 10 for Real Madrid but sometimes has to defend on the left. I think if you spoke to all our players in the forward areas, we never pin them to the touchline. That's not how we work. It's obvious the brilliant season Phil's had and how he's stepped up in big games. You want him in those central areas and we have to find the best way of making that happen.

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On the importance of a group mentality…

The group have got a lot of important shared experiences on the pitch. It's one thing eating together and having a coffee together but the reality is going to Naples, digging in with 10 men for the last 20 minutes of the game. They're the things that help you grow as a team and so we’ve got references of that nature where the players have played well. They've dug in together. There's a lot of tournament experience now. We have good options all over the pitch, some areas more experienced than others. We need flexibility and we've picked a very technical squad in the main. We have to go and grab the opportunity that lies in front of us.

On whether this squad can win the EUROS…

Of course everybody's waiting for the headline and I'd be an idiot if I said no. Equally if I say yes, that doesn't mean there's not a hell of a lot of work ahead of us. There's no doubt what's possible. But in knockout football, you could argue Arsenal and Manchester City were in the best three teams in the Champions League this year and neither got to where they would have hoped because it's one moment, it's fine margins. So that is our world and you're being judged on those moments. But are we one of the teams that can win it? Yeah, absolutely we are.