Southgate says it has faith in players influenced by Eddie Jones
MILAN (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate is taking inspiration from his rugby counterpart, Eddie Jones, by continuing to choose valuable players even if they don’t compete regularly at the top level.
In his book, ‘Leadership: Lessons from my Life in Rugby’, Jones explained how he selected players from England champion Saracens – such as star fly-half Owen Farrell – despite the team’s relegation to the second tier at the end of the 2019-20 season. due to salary cap overruns.
Southgate compares this to the situation he finds himself in two months from the World Cup, with the likes of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell retaining their place in the England squad despite limited playing time in the Premier League. English League this season.
Maguire and Shaw were regulars for England in their run to the European Championship final last year.
Referring to Jones’ book and Saracens’ player selection, Southgate said: “Even on reflection he felt they were his best players and even if they were undercooked they were still going to be better than the players who weren’t at the level, so I don’t think there are many players who aren’t there now who are still at the level to come in and play.
“Look, clearly, this is not an ideal situation. You want your best players to play regularly so that they are physically in the right place and mentally in the right place. But he (Maguire) is an important player for us. I think it’s important to support our best players.
Southgate has said he is ready to stake his reputation on Maguire, who is set to start against Italy in the Nations League on Friday despite not starting for Manchester United in his last four Premier League games .
The situation could change, however, warned Southgate.
“The team that we chose, there are a fair number of players that you could say we could have left out at this stage, but I think we wanted to keep this group together and keep them involved, that they feel part of it,” Southgate said after arriving in Milan on Thursday night.
“But they also know that for some of them they need to play more regularly because we’re only a few weeks away from pre-season, so physically if they’ve had a couple of 90 minutes then that’s fine. Another seven, eight weeks, then it starts to get more complicated.
Southgate said Maguire deserved to continue playing for England because of the specific qualities he and fellow centre-back John Stones possess.
“He and John are really amazing with the ball – the pressure they’ve put on the team in the tournaments we’ve played because we don’t always have that pivot player in midfield who can take the game forward. “, said Southgate.
“That means there’s enormously more pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as any football in the world at doing that.”
Harry Kane is also set to play against Italy in one of England’s last two games before the World Cup and the striker says he feels in the best shape of his career, physically, after hired a personal physiotherapist following repeated injury problems.
Kane was ruled out with a hamstring injury in January 2020 and, coupled with the disruption to the schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic, did not return to action for almost six months.
After that injury, he was recommended a physio – Kane didn’t reveal his name, only that he was Spanish – by another athlete and has since been sidelined with only minor issues.
“He’s been really great to me,” Kane said. “We worked for hours and hours over those three years, we built a really good relationship and I feel like he really helped me.
“I’ve seen changes in my body in terms of what my ankles looked like before and now after. I’m in a totally different place. So it’s really nice, I’ve kept it under the radar.
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