Monday, July 15, 2024

Everyone available for England´s Euro 2024 opener, confirms Southgate

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Jun 2024

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England have everyone in contention for their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia with Luke Shaw possibly able to appear from the bench, Gareth Southgate has revealed.

The Three Lions begin their fourth – and possibly final – major tournament under Southgate on Sunday, taking on Serbia in their first match in Group C in Gelsenkirchen.

Their preparations have been far from ideal, with Harry Maguire missing the tournament due to a calf injury and fellow centre-back John Stones battling a knock and illness.

Luke Shaw, meanwhile, has not played since February due to a hamstring problem, and was thought unlikely to feature until England’s third group game against Slovenia.

However, Southgate has confirmed the Manchester United left-back is in contention to make the bench for Sunday’s game, with Stones and the rest of his team-mates fully fit.

“Everyone is available. We have a decision whether Luke is a possible to use from the bench or not but everyone has trained today and is available,” Southgate said on Saturday.

England are playing at an 11th edition of the Euros, racking up more games at the tournament (38) than any other team has managed without winning it.

As Southgate looks to end 58 years of hurt at major tournaments, he is breaking the competition down into a series of short-term targets.

“I’m hugely excited,” he said. “To lead your country into a major tournament is an amazing honour. I’m very privileged. It’s as exciting as it was ahead of Russia, if not more so.

“In terms of our standing, you’ve seen Germany and Spain, there are a lot of good teams in this tournament.

“We firstly have to progress through the group and then there’s the opportunity to go further. Our focus is on qualifying from the group.

“When you’re trying to achieve exceptional things, you have to break it down into manageable chunks and the first priority is to get out of the group and work from there.”

While many have written Serbia off ahead of the match, head coach Dragan Stojkovic is convinced his side are ready for the challenge of facing a tournament favourite.

“We should have maximum concentration and the quality at the maximum level, and I would not make a difference between the first, second or the third match, each of those matches are of extraordinary importance,” Stojkovic told reporters.

“We know that we are starting against one of the favourites playing against England, but we have really done a lot to prepare as best as possible.

“Trust me, they [the players] can hardly wait for the match to start, because physically and tactically at the same time, I am convinced that we are ready to face the challenges that come with England.”

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