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England players ‘want Gareth Southgate to stay’ and feel he does not get credit he deserves

Gareth Southgate jokes with Kieran Trippier
England players want Gareth Southgate to stay in the job - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

Gareth Southgate has the backing of players to stay in the job after admitting the European Championship would likely be his last tournament unless England win in Germany.

Southgate, 53, has a contract with the Football Association until the end of the year but has support to extend his eight years in charge, with forward Anthony Gordon insisting he does not get the credit deserved for changing the national team into a young side with aspirations of winning a major competition.

With his team starting their preparations on Tuesday at an open-training session in Jena, his future came into sharp focus after an interview with German newspaper Bild which was published earlier in the week.

After considering his future two years ago after a defeat to Hungary in the Uefa Nations League, Southgate’s position also looked uncertain after the World Cup but he decided to stay on for the Euros and his 95 matches in charge is the same amount as Sir Bobby Robson’s.

“From a selfish point I would want him to stay,” said Gordon. “I love working with him and his staff. From my youth journey with England, the way they have transitioned the whole set-up from youth to senior level has been absolutely amazing and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.”

Southgate, speaking to Bild, had said: “If we don’t win, I probably won’t be here any more. So maybe it is the last chance. If we want to be a great team and I want to be a top coach, you must deliver in big moments.”

His full squad trained at the Ernst-Abbe-Sportfeld, with Luke Shaw joining in as he steps up his comeback from a hamstring injury, while John Stones and Bukayo Saka also featured despite recent concerns.

Luke Shaw trains with the rest of the England squad
Luke Shaw (centre) trained with the rest of the England squad - Reuters/John Sibley

Tom Heaton also played in the session after being called up as a 27th man to help the goalkeepers. The Manchester United keeper discussed the impact of Southgate on the squad, having made his England debut under Roy Hodgson.

“I predated Gareth, before he was England manager, and then I was there for quite a bit of his first few years, so I’ve seen him all the way through, really,” he said. “He’s just shifted the culture, really. I think he shifted the whole outlook, the whole feel from the country.

“He sort of brought everyone in together, so that’s how it’s changed. I think what that’s given the lads is a little bit of freedom to go and perform. I think we’ve seen that over the last few years. We’ve gone close, there’s been some really good performances and there’s a real good feel to the England team at the minute.”

Stones’ involvement in training was a huge boost for England ahead of their Euro opener against Serbia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen. He limped out of the final warm-up match against Iceland and left Wembley with strapping on his ankle but has now trained fully. Saka’s recovery from a groin problem has been managed carefully but he was at full tilt during the drills in Jena.

John Stones' involvement in training is a huge boost
John Stones' involvement in training was a huge boost - Getty Images/Eddie Keogh

Shaw will miss the Serbia match but having him train on grass is a positive step in his recovery.

“As I said after the match, I was a bit worried when he (Stones) went down because he’s such a big player for us but he’s fine. He’s got an elite mentality, so I’ve had faith in him,” said Newcastle forward Gordon.

“It’s really important that everyone trained. We want everyone as fit and healthy as possible going into the tournament so we can perform our best.

“Luke’s back in training now and doing really well. I did a bit of my rehab with him and he was far ahead of schedule. He was doing great, which is good.”

Gordon declared himself “more than ready to start” at Arena AufSchalke at the weekend, adding: “I’d love to start but I’ll be ready no matter what. What I‘m asked to do, I’ll be ready.

“A few people have said it where the squad has never been so competitive in terms of everyone is in form and everyone has come here in a really good place. There is definitely competition for places. Everyone is going to be at their best to try and play.”