Gareth Southgate opens up on “heartbreaking” decision to leave out Phil Foden

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Gareth Southgate has opened up on the "heartbreaking" decision he was forced to make in leaving Phil Foden out of the Euro 2020 final.

Man City star Foden has featured throughout the tournament and would have been in contention to start against Italy at Wembley.

But the 21-year-old had to sit out training on Saturday after picking up a minor injury and was unable to prove his fitness in time.

Southgate even revealed the decision was effectively made easier for him as Foden could not even run properly in his pre-match fitness assessment as he missed out on the 23-man matchday squad.

Phil Foden failed a late fitness test and will miss out on the Euro 2020 final
(Image: PA)

Speaking to ITV before kick-off, Southgate said: "It’s very difficult. It’s not something that’s going to keep him out for a long time, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to run properly yesterday.

“It’s heartbreaking for him and a disappointment for us.

“It’s an occasion that, every message you read and everybody you see, gets you more excited about.

“But we have to make good decisions on the field, we’ve got to make sure that we play with discipline.

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“We’ve also got to make sure we bring our best game, it’s not a day to sit and be safe and worry about making mistakes. We’ve got to be bold.”

Southgate has sprung somewhat of a surprise in reverting to the 3-4-3 formation which helped England beat Germany in the last-16.

That's the only time during the tournament that England haven't played with four at the back, `but with the belief that Italy could cause them a "tactical issue", Southgate opted to make the change.

Gareth Southgate opened up on the heart breaking decision to leave Foden out of the squad
(Image: BBC Sport)

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"We’ve had an incredible journey to the ground, people lining the route.

“People of every religion, every colour, every heritage, it was brilliant to see how it’s brought everyone together.

“Italy cause you a tactical problem, they’ve got a familiar way of playing and it’s a problem that ‘s difficult to resolve with a winger because he ends up defending in your own third of the pitch.

“So we want to keep our attacking players a lot higher up, which we hope is going to cause them a problem on the counter attack as well."

Gary Neville has suggested that Southgate is fully aware of his side's limitations and is keen to give extra protection to his defence against Europe's elite.

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He said: "I think he (Southgate) has known through this tournament that he’s had to cover his back four at times that might not be strong enough against the best teams.

“You saw him go against Germany with a back five to make sure he could hold them out, it’s worked and I think that’s why he’s gone with it again.

I think if he had a brilliant back four he’d go with it, but I think he needs that little extra protection.”

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