Gareth Southgate issues World Cup warning, says Qatar minutes have to be earned

Gareth Southgate England June 2022

England boss Gareth Southgate says Three Lions caps have be earned and he confirmed he will not be handing out minutes for the sake of it this winter.

England are scheduled to fly out to the Qatar World Cup on November 15. Just 24 hours after the FIFA deadline to name squads for the November and December showpiece.

Competition for places in the final 23 will be intense as England prepare to face Iran, USA and Wales in Group B.

The Home Nations League has given Southgate the opportunity to have a look at a number of different players. However, that experimenting has come at a cost. England have yet to score from open play in the three games to date.

They have only a Harry Kane penalty in the draw with Germany to show for their efforts.

Southgate has a 27-man squad at his disposal and Conor Gallagher is the only outfield England player yet to feature in this block of fixtures.

But with Hungary next up at Molineux on Tuesday, Southgate said the Chelsea man will get some minutes, but he warned that international game time has to be earned.

“He’ll have a chance,” said Southgate, who had a full squad available for training. “The reason is just the teams we’ve picked, the formations we’ve picked, haven’t necessarily fitted up to this point.

“Also, you have to earn your England caps. Although we’re trying to look at things, everybody has to be patient. We think it’s really important we have a squad that have a great collective mentality.

“That’s going to be huge as we move forward to the World Cup.

“When we go to the World Cup, we won’t just be handing out minutes to people, so there is always this balance of needing to find out about people. Seeing how they are when they’re not in the team and this group are excellent at that, they support each other, they create an environment where the team is first and that gives you a great chance of success.”

Southgate will check on the availability of Phil Foden ahead of Tuesday’s game with Hungary.

Foden missed the recent fixtures with Hungary, Germany and Italy after testing positive for coronavirus.

“We’ve got to chat with our physical performance guys and our medical team really, because he’s back into training but there’s a reality of how much conditioning he’s had over the last three weeks and what our expectation of him could be,” Southgate said of Foden.

“We’ll do that as the day progresses.”

Southgate on ‘disrespectful’ WAGs term

Meanwhile, Southgate said he would be surprised if a potential documentary following players’ wives and partners ahead of the World Cup came to fruition. He also added that he regarded the term ‘WAGs’ “disrespectful”.

“(It’s) not my cup of tea,” said Southgate. “I’d be surprised if the group of players we have got would have interest in that. Because they’ve wanted to focus on the football – the focus in Russia (2018) and last summer was all about the players and everything they do and we’ve never had any issues.

“We like to involve the families. I actually think the term’s quite disrespectful, ‘WAGs’. It’s their partners and family, so I don’t like the term.

“We want them to feel welcome, we invited them into the hotel when we could in Russia – mums, dads, kids. It’s a great feel when you’ve got the kids in especially, it changes the dynamic of the hotel.

“We couldn’t do that last year because of Covid. But it’s one big family. Everybody recognises that part of what we do has been very good over the last couple of years.”

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