Monday, 23 September, 2019


England boss Southgate: Qualifying too comfortable for Europe’s elite

No injury worries for England ahead of Kosovo clash No injury worries for England ahead of Kosovo clash
Noah Ferguson | 11 September, 2019, 01:57

England are expected to maintain their ideal start to Euro 2020 qualifying when they face Kosovo, the world's 120th-ranked team, at St Mary's on Tuesday.

Still Kosovo went forward, just seconds after conceding the second goal the visitors committed eight men to an attack, and only an unfortunate spin of the ball stopped Muriqi from having a glorious opportunity to make it 2-2 just a few yards from goal.

Since that game in Spain he has played seven games, scoring six goals in England's qualifying games so far and producing four assists.

Sterling, who at times played like he had the ball attached to his boot on a piece of string, tormented Kosovo throughout the first half.

Southgate's first choice defenders have not proved reliable against global opposition of the highest quality - and produced no evidence here to suggest they will do so any time soon.

"I think whenever we're judging games, all of us look at what hasn't gone well and sometimes we can overlook the brilliant things that they do, that maybe other countries don't have".

The England manager has chosen to refresh his team at full-back after Saturday's comprehensive 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley.

"We might freshen the team a bit, that will be important".

Harry Kane talks with manager Gareth Southgate and his staff
Harry Kane talks with manager Gareth Southgate and his staff

"They have the longest unbeaten record in Europe".

Jadon Sancho scored twice in two minutes - the 19-year-old winger's first goals at senior global level - to cap an England comeback that also featured goals for Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

"The outstanding play was obvious", Southgate said, "and the errors were obvious".

Jesse Lingard is yet to score or assist this season for Man United but we believe he will once again be named in the first XI when United take on Leicester City right after the global break.

But England's display, particularly that occasionally shambolic defence, was not flawless and they will not come away unscathed if this is produced on a bigger stage.

"Our experiences of taking the team around the country have been really positive". The Kosovar fans in all four stands of the ground let out an electric roar of approval, and chants of "Duam Fitore" ('We want victory') rung out at St Mary's.

"We know it'll be a very tough game".

"So, we're expecting a different sort of challenge to Saturday but one that we're looking forward to".

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