Gareth Southgate: Youngest England squad have no fears of Euro 2020 failure

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Gareth Southgate: Youngest England squad have no fears of Euro 2020 failure
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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has said his England players will not be weighed down by the “baggage of failure” at Euro 2020 after naming the youngest squad at the tournament.

Southgate yesterday picked his final 26-man squad, with an average age of under 25, the lowest number of caps in the competition and including teenage wildcards Jude Bellingham and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.

Fifteen of England’s squad have never played in a major tournament, but Southgate insisted that was a positive and said he had picked the best available players, regardless of age.

“There’s no baggage of failure,” the England manager said. “We think that these are our best players. It doesn’t matter what their age is — if our best players are young ones, we should take them.

“We know that a lot of these players aren’t peaking yet, they’re a long way from peaking. That’s hugely exciting for England fans and future England managers, because we know they’re going to have the best of this group for years to come.

“We were the second-youngest squad in Russia, [winners] France were pretty young as well, and we both had very good tournaments.

“There are stats that might tell you that the average age of teams who win these tournament is 28 or something like that, but that doesn’t have to be the case.”

Southgate yesterday axed six players from his provisional 33-man squad, including Jesse Lingard, James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins, after losing Mason Greenwood to injury.

The cut players will feature in tonight’s warm-up against Austria, with Lingard set to start, and Sunday’s game against Romania and remain with the squad on standby until before England’s opening fixture of the championship — against Croatia on Sunday week.

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

The four Manchester United players who competed in the Europa League Final — Dean Henderson, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford — were due to join up with the squad today, while the seven Manchester City and Chelsea players who contested the Champions League Final will not report until Friday.

Southgate said he had not spoken to Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling after their defeat to Chelsea in Porto, but said he was more worried about the mindsets of the newly-crowned European champions.

“I’ve left those [City] guys,” he said. “I think sometimes you need to work your way through those feelings. We’re all assuming that it’s the City players that need lifting, but maybe we have a bigger issue with the Chelsea players, their feeling of success.

“Maybe the City players arrive more motivated, there’s no way of knowing. We’re delighted for the boys who won, we commiserate with the guys that didn’t get there, but I’m sure they’re all ready to play their part for England.”

Southgate also admitted that any part Maguire and Jordan Henderson could play in the tournament would be “a bonus”.

United captain Maguire missed the end of the season with ankle ligament damage, while Liverpool skipper Henderson has not played for over three months following groin surgery.

“We’re realistic, we feel if they can play a part with the team as the tournament goes forward that’s a bonus,” Southgate said. “We’ve covered what we might need with the rest of the squad. Because we had 26, we felt to bring their leadership, their experience and their quality is a bonus. We’ve got to prepare as if they won’t be with us.”

Ben Godfrey, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale were also cut yesterday, having already been told they would only be included in the event of injuries.

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