06 June 2024

Gareth Southgate will meet with players before refocusing on Euro 2024

06 June 2024

Gareth Southgate will meet with his players to reflect on an emotional day as the England manager looks to refocus on this summer push for Euro glory.

Friday was the deadline to cut a 33-man training group down to 26 players, with the 11pm deadline just over an hour after the final friendly against Iceland finished.

England’s squad announcement was pencilled in for Saturday morning, but Southgate decided to bring it forwards to Thursday.

News of James Maddison’s omission came through on Wednesday evening, with Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire following as high-profile cuts.

Jarrad Branthwaite, James Trafford, Curtis Jones and Jarell Quansah – who has stayed with the squad for Friday’s game – also miss out on a group that now needs to come together.

“I didn’t want to keep the players waiting until Friday,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 live. “I think that would have been a mess, really.

“It wouldn’t have been fair on the players that we’ve released, wouldn’t have been fair on the players that were waiting to have confirmation that they were in.

“Inevitably, we knew when we named a 33 there would be a period of a nice prep camp, and then there was going to be a couple of days where there would be a lot of anxiety and a difficult couple of days for us all.

“But we’ll close that down later tonight and now tomorrow everybody’s heads are clear.

“They look forward to the game, and when they come back in on the Sunday they can really start looking forward to the tournament.”

Kobbie Mainoo, Eberechi Eze and Adam Wharton are among the young stars Southgate has selected as he made 13 changes to his 2022 World Cup squad.

The decisions to drop Maddison and Grealish were particularly eye-catching given their qualities and their longstanding role in the England set-up.

“All of the players took the news really respectfully,” Southgate said.

“Of course all players are going to believe they should be in and that’s why they are top players because they have that self-belief and that mindset as well.

“The fact is we’ve got some players who have been playing extremely well all season in the league and we just feel other players have had stronger seasons, particularly in the last six months or so.

“I think we saw some fantastic performances the other night that underlined some of that.

“The attacking areas of the pitch in particular, we’re blessed with a lot of options, all slightly different.

“Both Madders and Jack give us something slightly different as well, so they’ve been tough calls we’ve gone over and over and over as a group of staff to try to be fair, to get the right rationale.

“And we back our decisions but recognise we could have gone a different route.

“Both of the boys are big characters, fabulous team-mates, great boys to work with. So yeah, sad to deliver that news to them.”

Maguire was the other headline exclusion given his importance to England for the last three major tournaments. But his calf injury has taken longer to recover from than expected, meaning he would miss the entire group campaign unlike Manchester United team-mate Luke Shaw.

“Harry has made some progress but that’s been complicated,” Southgate said.

“We definitely wouldn’t have had him in the group stages and there were too many hurdles to get through without really being clear of where we might get to.

“Given we haven’t got a clean bill of health across the rest of the backline as well, then we need cover, players who are fit and ready to go from the start. Another difficult call.

“You know how I feel about Harry Maguire and what he’s done for England, what he’s done for me as a manager.

“That’s a slightly different case to the other two but no easier because of that.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox