Gareth Southgate defends lack of England substitutions in Poland draw: ‘We were in total control’

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Gareth Southgate did not use any subs in England’s 1-1 draw in Poland  (The FA via Getty Images)
Gareth Southgate did not use any subs in England’s 1-1 draw in Poland (The FA via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate defended his surprising lack of substitutions after England were held to a last-gasp draw by Poland in Warsaw.

The Three Lions boss did not make a single change in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier at Stadion Narodowy - the first time an England manager has failed to make any subs in a match since Terry Venables in the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany.

England took the lead with 18 minutes to go in a feisty and competitive contest following Harry Kane’s cracking strike from almost 35 yards out that beat ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, but the visitors began to look leggy after going ahead and soaked up late pressure.

Ultimately that pressure told in the second minute of second-half stoppage time, when Damian Szymanski - one of five second-half substitutes introduced by Poland boss Paulo Sousa - rose above Luke Shaw to head home Robert Lewandowski’s cross at the back post.

Pundits and fans alike have since speculated that England might have avoided conceding with some fresher legs on the pitch and kept their 100 per cent qualifying record intact, though Southgate believes his team were in full control and any changes would have simply led to more additional time.

“We wanted to make substitutions towards the end, but when the goal went in we thought there was no point because we would be adding time on,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We were playing well, we were in control. At those moments, it’s not easy to come on as a substitute and we would be taking people off for the sake of it, frankly.

“We were in total control, there was no issue, why disrupt it when you’re in control?”

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