Gareth Southgate stresses importance of Nations League fixtures for England
Gareth Southgate has underlined the importance of the next Nations League double as England look to bounce back from a humiliating end to June’s fixtures in the final camp ahead of the World Cup.
An international year like no other, with just three months to go before the Three Lions kick off their quest for glory in Qatar against Iran in the Group B opener.
September’s Nations League fixtures in Italy and at home to Germany are Southgate’s only chance to work with their players before the team meet in the week before the World Cup from November .
This fact heightened the importance of the matches ahead, as did the need to respond to Hungary’s 4-0 home humiliation as June’s difficult four-game schedule ended in embarrassing fashion.
“We are not going to bring the players together again before the World Cup,” Southgate told Sky Sports.
“You would normally have maybe a 28-day training camp and a few friendlies leading up to a tournament to work with the team. This is the last realistic chance to do that.
“When we meet in winter, we will fly to Qatar and it will be a normal week-long preparation for a match.
“So it’s a great opportunity to test ourselves against really top teams. We want to respond to the performances we’ve given in the summer and it’s a very important preparation before the World Cup.
Southgate will name their squad for matches at the San Siro and Wembley in three weeks – a period which they surely hope will provide greater clarity on the form and condition of the players.
Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were benched for Manchester United’s win over Liverpool, while the playing time of Jack Grealish, Kalvin Phillips and John Stones at Manchester City will be watched.
“There’s a lot going on, isn’t there? Southgate said of the start of the Premier League season.
“I mean, I think at this time of year the league table doesn’t always represent or settle for a few weeks and you always have the transfer window open, which creates such a chaos in every club, really.
“Things need to sort themselves out and we’re probably lucky – normally our international fixtures would be next week and we’d name a team. It’s good to have a few weeks to see things take shape a bit and see how the players are physically, in terms of fitness.
“There have been some unexpected results but I think this time of year can happen and we will now enter a period where there will be two games a week for all teams, certainly those in European competition too. good.
“Things will probably take on a more familiar look, I would say.”
Southgate was speaking when it was announced that 40% of The Football Foundation’s investment – worth an estimated £92m over the next three years – would go into multi-sport projects which support both football and one additional sport by 2025.
The announcement was made by representatives of a number of sports as the country basks in the afterglow of England’s triumph at the Women’s Euro.
Southgate said seeing the Lionesses’ success “reignites your passion to deliver it alongside us” in Qatar, where the Euro 2020 finalists will need to be versatile if they are to have any chance of lifting the trophy.
“You always have to give space and opportunities to people who play well,” he said. “We are going to lose players from the team over the next few months. In other countries it has happened before.
“Whatever idea you have in your head of who your best players are, what we do, it’s going to fluctuate and you have to adapt.
“Perhaps this World Cup more than any other, that ability to adapt and operate quickly, to make the right decisions in a short period of time leading up to the final, will probably be more important than ever.”