England manager Gareth Southgate has hit out at critics who claim he is being too cautious with both his tactics and team selection.
It has been suggested he is being too loyal to some of the more established members of the squad and reluctant to put too much faith in flair players such as Jack Grealish, who was man of the match on his first international start in the 3-0 win over Wales last week, but then did not feature at all against Belgium or the Danes.
The Wales win aside, goals have been a problem for England this season, scoring just one goal from open play in their four Nations League ties – Mason Mount’s deflected winner against Belgium on Sunday.
Southgate, though, has dismissed any concerns about his approach, pointing to the fact he gave youngsters Reece James and Ainsley Maitland-Niles their first starts against Denmark, with a youthful-looking midfield in front of them.
“We gave another two 20-somethings their debuts against Denmark, alongside Mason Mount, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, who has had four games in the Premier League – along with Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford up front,” Southgate said.
“So I think we’ve been pretty bold in many of our decisions over a long period of time.
“I think we’ve been top scorers in the World Cup, we were top scorers in the Euro qualifiers and we’ve been to two semi‑finals.
“We’ve blooded any number of young players. I suppose I would point to that body of work but it’s for others to have that opinion. I’m not really too concerned.”
Southgate also defended his team’s performance against Denmark, which was decided by a controversial first-half penalty just minutes after Harry Maguire had been shown a second yellow card.
“I leave the camp frustrated that two decisions have cost us the game against Denmark, but in the end I’m so proud of what the players have done and the way they’ve been across the 10 days,” he added.
“They’re a joy to work with. They are growing in resilience. They know how the level of training has to be every day. They know what’s expected of each other.
Source : goal.com