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Gareth Southgate Cautious of England Changes Ahead of Slovakia Clash

Gareth Southgate is wary of making drastic changes to England’s lineup despite their underwhelming Euro 2024 performances. Speculation suggests that Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer might start in Sunday’s last-16 match against Slovakia, following their impactful substitutions against Slovenia. However, Southgate is expected to retain much of his starting XI, having only made one change throughout the tournament.

Southgate emphasized the importance of continuity and confidence, saying, “You have to be very careful not to throw everything out the window and lose the confidence that comes from players playing together.” Despite criticism, he maintains that England’s team is just “five percent off” where they need to be and cautions against overreacting to external opinions.

Southgate has acknowledged the impact of his substitutes in previous matches and recognizes the competition for places within the squad. “Our substitutions have had a big impact, and we’re mindful people are pushing for places,” he said.

Reflecting on the goalless draw against Slovenia, Southgate described it as a “step in the right direction” and noted the team’s increased intensity in training. He highlighted the importance of maintaining composure and creativity in the final third, assuring that the squad has the players capable of delivering results.

Fitness remains a concern, with players like Jude Bellingham admitting to feeling fatigued. Southgate addressed Bellingham’s condition, stating, “He missed a period towards the end of the season with an ankle injury, and didn’t play every game because they were preparing for a Champions League final.” However, Southgate is confident in Bellingham’s recovery and overall fitness, adding that the young player handles expectations remarkably well for his age.

In preparation for the Slovakia match, Southgate is focused on finding the right balance between maintaining continuity and leveraging the squad’s depth, ensuring players are ready to step up when needed.

Credit: Sky Sports

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