21 May 2024

Gareth Southgate says Euro 2024 squad has been his most ‘complicated’ selection

21 May 2024

England boss Gareth Southgate says he is dealing with an unparalleled number of unknowns and complications after naming an expanded Euro 2024 training squad.

Three years on from the heartbreak of losing the last edition on penalties to Italy at Wembley, they head to Germany among the favourites for continental glory.

But a string of issues have thrown a spanner in the works, leading Southgate to name an enlarged 33-man training squad on Tuesday.

He says this selection has been harder than his previous three major tournament in charge.

“This has been as complicated a group as I can remember picking, “Southgate said. “And we’ve had quite a few complicated ones!

“But I think we can make better decisions by giving ourselves more time. There are moments where actually time doesn’t help you to make a better decision but in this instance it will.

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

England play warm-up friendlies against Bosnia at St James’ Park on June 3 before hosting Iceland at Wembley on June 7, when they must submit their final 26-man squad to UEFA.

“I would say we’ve never had so many unknown situations,” Southgate said.

“We’ve had tournaments where we’ve taken a player that we would be 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.

“So, yeah, they’re different problems, but we’re used to dealing with it and the key is making the best possible decisions.”

Harry Kane and Harry Maguire have been lied low by injury in recent weeks, while Bukayo Saka and Anthony Gordon missed the final day of their respective club campaigns.

Marc Guehi only returned to Crystal Palace starting line-up on Sunday after knee surgery, while Kieran Trippier is building fitness after a lay-off.

Luke Shaw has not featured for Manchester United since February and Southgate considers him a “long shot”, potentially leaving the squad without an out-and-out left-back.

“There are a significant number (of injury headaches),” the England boss said.

“We’ve got an important physical challenge in that some players are going to need a bit more work, but we’ve got to make sure we push at the right times and get them the minutes that they need in the games.

“And other players don’t need much at all and need refreshing.

“I think we’ve navigated that well in our previous end of season tournaments and that’s the challenge we’ve got to do this time.”

Southgate has no doubt that England have the quality required to be crowned European champions.

Asked if this squad can go the distance in Germany, he said: “Yeah, I mean of course everybody’s waiting for that headline.

“I’d be an idiot if I said ‘no’. And 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. The team have been very close already, so they know what’s possible. They know what they’ve won at club level and what that’s taken.

“In knockout football we’ve seen in the Champions League, you’d argue that Arsenal and Man City were among the best three teams in the Champions League this year.

“Neither got to where they would have hoped to have got to because it’s one moment, it’s fine margins.

“But are we one of those teams that can win, of which there are a few? Yeah, absolutely we are.”

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