Southgate: Off-field antics could derail England
Gareth Southgate has warned his players that off-field issues could “derail” England at major tournaments.
The three players in question attended a party organised to celebrate Abraham’s 23rd birthday where around 20 people gathered, breaking the “rule of six” which states the maximum number of people allowed to congregate together at one time.
It follows another coronavirus breach last month when Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home in disgrace after leaving the bubble in the team hotel in Reykjavik to meet two women just hours after making their debuts against Iceland.
Southgate, who recalled Harry Maguire last week after dropping him in September following an incident in Mykonos while on holiday which led to a 21-month suspended sentence for a series of offences including aggravated assault, said: “I don’t think we can attribute what happens with players when they are with their clubs as the responsibility of England.
“But what we did earlier this week, we had a really good meeting with all of the players where we talked about the responsibility of being an England player and how the spotlight is different.
“When the story broke earlier in the week there was no mention of the clubs they play for, they were England players and the players need to be aware of that.
“When these incidents happen they take a lot of energy and focus away from the game and we can’t afford that. If you’re going into major tournaments and you have major incidents they can derail you, and I’ve seen that.
“We’ve worked very hard over the past three or four years to get a connection with the fans back and some of the younger ones don’t have the credit in the bank some of the more senior players, who have played in tournaments, have.
“Everyone from footballers to politicians has erred in terms of dealing with the virus and we all need to get back on track a little bit. There’s a lot of disharmony now and we’re all in this together, we need to work together.
“We do have an issue in terms of the COVID guidelines and making sure any player coming in is as low-risk as possible. So we’re having to monitor the players — they will have been tested today and tomorrow. They will miss the Wales game and if they’re not with us by Friday then they will miss the Belgium game too.”
Meanwhile, Southgate also confirmed regular first-choice goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who has been criticised after a shaky displays for Everton this season, will not start tomorrow with either Manchester United‘s Dean Henderson or Burnley’s Nick Pope getting the nod.
“We know Jordan has made errors,” he said. “Nick made errors at the weekend. There is a very close contest. We will make a change tomorrow.”