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Gareth Southgate has hinted that he is ready to unleash Jadon Sancho on the Euros.
The England boss insists that he should take the flak for England’s misfiring forward line after the Three Lions were given a reality check by Scotland on Friday night.
Captain Harry Kane has failed to have a single effort on target in the opening two games.
And with Southgate admitting that the explosive attacking blend of Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Mason Mount has failed to ignite, he knows that the pressure is on him to give Jack Grealish and Manchester United-bound Sancho the opportunity to impress.
Gareth Southgate has hinted that he is ready to unleash Jadon Sancho
(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Southgate said: “We’ve got some explosive options – and a lot of them are young players experiencing a big tournament for the first time.
“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.”
There is a belief in the England camp that Southgate’s team are paying the price for a wave of hype and optimism that saw them installed as pre-tournament favourites. Southgate also feels the all-English Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City damaged his preparations.
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He said: “We didn’t have a lot of our players for the friendlies, so the chemistry is something we didn’t have a lot of opportunity to work on.
“We’ve got to just keep working on that. We know there are some very good players in there, we know they can perform better and we’ve got to help them to find that level.
“But I think I’ve said before that some teams are at a different point in their development.
“Italy have had a great run – 29 games unbeaten – and we know what France and Portugal have done over the last few years, and Belgium have been the No.1 team for four years.
Harry Kane was poor for England against Scotland
(Image: The FA via Getty Images)
“So that’s the level. That’s the standard we’ve got to aspire to.
“We’re a work in progress. The first step is to qualify from the group and then we’re into the next phase.”
England were jeered off the pitch after the goalless draw with Scotland.
And Kane has looked a shadow of the talisman who has scored 34 goals for his country and won the Golden Boot at the last World Cup.
The striker stated before the tournament that he wants to leave Spurs – and the issue seems to have cast a shadow over his tournament.
But Kane will once again lead the attack when England face the Czech Republic on Tuesday night.
Southgate said: “In terms of Harry’s performances, in the end centre-forwards rely on the service of the team as well.
“We haven’t got in those areas. We haven’t got those chances yet. Harry hasn’t been able to do that.
“Of course it’s always difficult when it’s your captain because Harry is a player we’ve never had to take off in the past – and of course at his club you leave him on in any circumstances.”
He added: “I always look at myself first – and in the end when you have a result like we had against Scotland, I understand there’s going to be criticism.
“That’s perfectly acceptable. The important thing is that everyone gets behind the team and the players.
“They’re going to need to feel that support.
“This is a relatively inexperienced group. It’s a different experience for a lot of them than they’ve ever faced before.”