Gareth Southgate says England places are up for grabs in Euros clash with Germany

Gareth Southgate admits players can still force their way into England's starting line-up for Tuesday's Euro 2020 last-16 tie against Germany at Wembley.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 11:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 11:34 pm

Southgate promised to watch the conclusion of the so-called group of death with an open mind about his selection, but now will have to plan for a major test against Joachim Low's side.

Germany twice came from behind against Hungary to draw 2-2 and finish as Group F runners-up, earning a visit to Group D winners England. Whoever wins will meet Sweden or Ukraine in the quarter-finals in Rome.

The Germans finished ahead of Portugal on goal difference, after the holders had also drawn 2-2 with group winners France thanks to two Cristiano Ronaldo penalties. Portugal also go through and face Belgium on Sunday.

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Kai Havertz of Chelsea scores Germany's first goal in the draw with Hungary which secured their Euro 2020 date with England next week
Kai Havertz of Chelsea scores Germany's first goal in the draw with Hungary which secured their Euro 2020 date with England next week

Asked if he knew his ideal starting line-up in the last-16, Southgate said: "For the last 12 months whenever I've written a team sheet down anything more than two days before a game it's changed, so at the moment, no.

"We'll see how everybody is once we get back to St George's and through the next couple of days of recovery and we'll go from there.

"I think what's clear is that there are some areas of the team that we've been able to build closer to what we think is full strength as the last sort of four weeks or so has gone on.

"Players have arrived late from European finals or (we've) been unable to get them on the pitch following injury or lacked fitness and I've always felt that we were going to have to grow into this tournament in terms of selection. That's why the squad has been so important."

Southgate called England's group win a "real collective performance" given a challenging backdrop that continued this week when Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced into isolation.

Scotland's Billy Gilmour tested positive for coronavirus following Friday's match and the Chelsea duo were identified as contacts, much to the confusion and frustration of those around the England camp.

Given that issue, it was no surprise to see an England employee go over to Declan Rice and hand out masks as he spoke to West Ham team-mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal after the Czech Republic game on Tuesday.

"I think that we've been incredibly vigilant throughout really, so it's been a real anomaly what's happened with the two boys," Southgate said.

"But because of what's happened we've had to speak to the players again just to remind them, but frankly our protocols meant we've not come unstuck in the past.

"How we've come unstuck and others haven't is beyond comprehension for me, really.

"Just because there's some evidence of ours and yet clearly the situation with others has been a higher risk in terms of passing the virus on, so it feels particularly harsh for our two players.

"It's not helpful for us as a team, but devastating for the two boys that they're in a major championship and they've had to miss out on a big part of it in this way."

Southgate expects Mount and Chilwell to be the only missing parts as he starts a pivotal stretch of training with the group.

"The first thing is it's great to have a couple of days to be able to recover the players because a few of them have had quite a heavy load in the last week or so at the end of a very long season," he said. "We've got to make sure that we don't overdo the work on the training ground."