England must be ‘streetwise’ in bid for Euros glory, says Tyrone Mings

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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Tyrone Mings has warned that England’s rivals at Euro 2020 are “masters of the dark arts” as he stressed the need for a “streetwise” approach to the tournament.

After rather unconvincing 1-0 warm-up wins against Austria and Romania in Middlesbrough, the serious business gets underway for the Three Lions on Sunday when they take on Group D rivals Croatia - the team that ended their World Cup dream at the semi-final stage in Russia three years ago - on home turf at Wembley Stadium.

For all of their attacking talent and strength in depth, there remain notable question marks over England’s defence heading into the rescheduled European Championship, especially with Manchester United captain Harry Maguire only returning to training on Thursday following an ankle ligament injury that forced him to miss the final stages of the 2020/21 club season.

After being caught on cameras catching Austria forward Sasa Kalajdzic with his forearm in last week's friendly at the Riverside Stadium, Mings suggested England need to sometimes blur the line when it comes to following the rules.

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Asked if there is something to be said about being streetwise, Mings replied: "Football is very soft these days, you cannot get away with much.

"Like you say, if there had have been VAR, absolutely I would have given away a penalty.

"As a defender, I have done that many times in my career. When a cross is about to come in, block the striker. That is not against the rules. But that one (on Kalajdzic) there was probably too aggressive.

"But being streetwise is a huge part of the game. You look at other nations and they are masters at the dark arts - staying on the floor for longer than needed, delaying restarts.

"Being streetwise is also sometimes what gets you over the edge because it winds up the opposition and breaks up their flow and their rhythm."

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Mings defended his actions in the Kalajdzic incident and says he would not have been caught out by VAR, had it been in operation during the friendly.

"Not lucky, no, because I knew there wasn't VAR," he said when asked if he was lucky the clash went unnoticed by the officials.

When it was put to him that he would have been sent off if it had happened in a match at the Euros, Mings added: "Yeah but it wasn't, was it, so we can go back through many different occasions in my career and you could say if there was VAR in that game, I would have got sent off."

England boss Gareth Southgate will certainly be hoping that Mings does not get caught out if he opts to play the centre-back against Croatia.

Whether he is in the team or not, Mings insists he will still not be the story. He said: "(The spotlight is) Not on me. It's on Harry and whether or not he will play.

"If he is not fit and somebody else plays, we will take that as it comes on the day and prepare accordingly.

"But I don't feel there is more of a spotlight on me because I don't know if I would play even if he were not fit. I am just in the shadows trying to help prepare as much as possible." 

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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