Southgate plots major England changes for Ivory Coast match; double injury update

Gareth Southgate watching an England training session

England boss Gareth Southgate will make several changes when the Three Lions come up against Ivory Coast on Tuesday.

England beat Switzerland 2-1 in a friendly on Saturday, although it was far from a simple victory at Wembley. Switzerland had the majority of chances in the first half and went ahead through Breel Embolo’s 22nd-minute header.

And they could have given themselves a two-goal cushion when Fabian Frei smashed a shot against the crossbar, which Jordan Pickford did well to get a hand to.

England drew level on the stroke of half time when Luke Shaw hit a first-time effort past Jonas Omlin.

And Southgate’s men picked up the win thanks to Harry Kane’s clinical penalty with just over 10 minutes left.

Southgate gave England debuts to Marc Guehi, Conor Gallagher, Kyle Walker-Peters and Tyrick Mitchell. And more changes are in store for next week’s game against Ivory Coast.

“We think that’s the right thing to do,” Southgate said (via the PA news agency).

Gareth Southgate enjoys England’s squad depth

“We want to keep all of the squad involved. I think that has been a strength for us. Players who come in perform well at the level and the team march on.

“They need to feel that we’ve got the confidence in them to go into any game and we’re also at a stage of the season where their load is heavy and we’ve got to make sure we try and navigate that in the best way possible.”

England manager Gareth Southgate alongside Harry Kane

The former defender also gave an update on the fitness of John Stones and Emile Smith Rowe.

Manchester City star Stones pulled up while warming up for the Switzerland match, while Smith Rowe missed out entirely.

Manager gives update on two stars

“With John, he just felt a bit of tightness before the game,” Southgate added. “We’re certain it’s not too serious.

“It could be that he’s OK before Tuesday but we didn’t really have time before the game to assess properly so there was no point in taking a risk at that moment and we will find out a bit more (on Sunday).

“Emile did some work with the fitness team today so there’s a chance he’ll do some of the training session (on Sunday). He is the only other one we have got any flags on.”

Reacting to the tight win over Switzerland, Southgate said: “I think the whole thing was a really worthwhile exercise for us and that’s why you want that quality of opposition.

“We could take lower level teams but you don’t learn anything and actually we want to be stretched, we need to be stretched. It puts your record at risk but that’s not important, really.

“We’re trying to do well in tournaments and I think with the Nations League as we’ll have had more competitive games than any previous generation, so that means sometimes you come unstuck but I think in the long-term you are better for it.”

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