England Reporter’s Notebook: Should Gareth Southgate have made an extra call for exhausted England? | Soccer News

Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett wonders if Gareth Southgate has left England short of numbers for Sunday’s clash with Ukraine…

After a memorable Napoli win – England’s first win in Italy for 62 years, and one where Harry Kane made his own history – Gareth Southgate can’t even name a full bench for the home game against Ukraine .

He only has 18 outfielders to choose from. Reece James withdrawing with a minor hamstring problem goes hand in hand with the injury withdrawals of Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount and Nick Pope, and the suspension of Luke Shaw.

Southgate rarely makes late calls, but its refusal to do so here is odd. The England manager explained this by saying that it’s very difficult to bring players into the middle of the camp, when they are not aware of the position of the other players.

Normally he would attack the U21s, but he said that because their game was the day before the senior team, that was also problematic.

“We’ve pretty much had enough,” was his slightly ominous response, when asked about resources.

At least England’s problems in midfield have eased.

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Gareth Southgate says he really likes Ivan Toney but there is always the dual objective of balancing the desire to see the players against the priority of winning the game

Jordan Henderson arrived at St George’s Park recovering from illness, Jude Bellingham limped off Napoli with a knee and Kalvin Phillips played almost twice as many minutes against Italy as he did managed all season for Manchester City.

Southgate says all three are good to face Ukraine, although he takes into account the freshness of these players. This likely points to Henderson and Bellingham lining up alongside Declan Rice, with Phillips rested.

Kane will do it again for sure. He wants to play every minute for England, and surpassing Wayne Rooney’s all-time record hasn’t diminished his thirst for goals. The fact that Tottenham do not play again for a week on Monday means there is no logical debate over load management, even if it will be their second 90 minutes in three days.

Is it Toney time?

What does Ivan Toney bring to England and how is he different from Harry Kane?

The real question is where that leaves Ivan Toney.

It’s his second call-up to England, but he doesn’t just want to train, he wants to play. And again, he will have to wait for his England debut.

Ahead of the Ukraine match, Southgate said he was impressed with Toney in training: “We really like him and he is in our thoughts.”

I suspect he has a plan to bring Toney to Wembley, if and when England are comfortable in the game.

If that situation ever happens, I just can’t see Southgate taking Kane out – and Toney might be frustrated again.

With a suspension from the FA looming, after the Brentford striker admitted a number of charges of breaking the rules of the game, Toney will be more desperate than ever to start his international career now. Nine goals in his last 12 games is a record worthy of an England debut.

Foden to replace Grealish?

Jack Greish

The age-old debate over which wide men to pick for England still applies. I would expect Bukayo Saka to keep his place on the right, but Phil Foden could well get the nod in place of Jack Grealish, who struggled to make an impact against a physical Italian defence.

Ukraine has not found itself in a team since September, so much unrest reigns in its country. And 15 of the squad’s 25 players are still based in Kyiv and surrounding areas.

But while Southgate says he has obvious sympathy for whatever his opponents are going through, the focus is on the football.

And the English boss is only thinking of following up this great victory in Italy with another at home against his second toughest opponent in Group C.

“We need to be six points when we leave Wembley, and to be considered a top team we need to back up that big win against Italy.”

Southgate hopes he hasn’t let England down.

Where and when is Euro 2024?

Germany hosts the tournament which is due to take place from June 14 to July 14, 2024.

The format will be the same as Euro 2020 where the top two from each of the six groups in the final tournament will advance to the round of 16 along with the four best third-place finishers.

What do England need to qualify from Group C?

Group winners and runners-up advance directly to the final 24-team tournament.

The remaining three teams will be determined in the play-offs, with 12 teams selected based on their performance in the 2022/23 Nations League.

England’s Group C schedule…

England will play home and away against Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta in Group C. Their schedule is as follows:

  • March 26, 2023 – England v Ukraine
  • June 16, 2023 – Malta v England
  • June 19, 2023 – England v North Macedonia
  • September 9, 2023 – Ukraine v England
  • October 17, 2023 – England v Italy
  • November 17, 2023 – England v Malta
  • November 20, 2023 – North Macedonia vs England

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