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England boss Southgate unlikely to take risks again Czechs

  • The disappointing performance in Friday's goalless draw with Scotland has led to calls from pundits and fans for Southgate to adopt a more positive style.
21 Jun, 2021

MANCHESTER: England manager Gareth Southgate looks likely to resist the clamour for a major change in approach for Tuesday's final Euro 2020 Group D match against the Czech Republic at Wembley.

The disappointing performance in Friday's goalless draw with Scotland has led to calls from pundits and fans for Southgate to adopt a more positive style.

But while some personnel changes could be on the cards, it is not expected that the England manager will switch to the kind of attacking lineup some of his critics have been demanding.

The Czechs are top of the table on four points, ahead of England on goal difference, and a draw would see both teams advance regardless of the outcome of the game between Croatia and Scotland, who are both on one point.

So while critics may be demanding Southgate switch to a more offensive lineup, he will know the priority is to make it safely into the last 16.

On Sunday, Southgate took the unusual step of announcing that captain Harry Kane, whose sluggish displays have worried England fans, will definitely start against the Czechs.

Since the Scotland game, he has also pushed back gently against those who have been calling for Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, who has yet to feature, to be given a slot on the right wing.

"We've got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time," he said.

"So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals.

"Jadon is in that mix. He's trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make," he said.

Sancho, linked with a move to Manchester United after a strong season in the Bundesliga, would be an alternative to Raheem Sterling, who scored the goal in the opening 1-0 win over Croatia, but who he has been struggling for form over recent months.

The most popular change Southgate could make is to bring creative midfielder Jack Grealish into the side, but even if he does introduce the Aston Villa player it is unlikely to be part of a major tactical shift.

Czech Republic assistant coach Jiri Chytry said England's display against Scotland was impacted by the special nature of the all-British clash.

"We expect to face the extremely strong England we know from recent years. Their team is well-balanced with experienced players from top-class clubs, talented youngsters. We are not reading much into the performance against Scotland: it was a derby with its own specific characteristics," he said.

Czech striker Patrik Schick is the joint top scorer, with Cristiano Ronaldo, in the tournament so far having grabbed three goals in the opening two games -- including his wonderful long-range strike against Scotland.


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