Gareth Southgate will make a number of changes to the England team for Saturday’s Nations League clash with Italy. Aaron Ramsdale and Tammy Abraham are set to replace Jordan Pickford and Harry Kane with the Three Lions boss citing ‘player welfare’ as a factor.
Southgate also highlighted that the likes of Spain and France had made between seven and 10 changes for ‘a unique set of games’ that have taken place after a gruelling domestic season. The England boss also accepted that whilst his decision to alter his side may lead to poor results and criticism; his remit is to focus on the bigger picture, especially with the World Cup taking place at the end of the year.
England came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw away to Germany on Tuesday and Southgate revealed some players could ‘barely walk in the dressing room,’ after a ‘phenomenal effort’ at the Allianz Arena. Asked if he would tinker with his starting line-up against the Italians, Southgate replied: “I think we will because I think you have seen right across Europe – France changed 10, Spain changed eight, Portugal changed seven.
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“So this is quite a unique set of games where teams are thinking about player welfare to a degree, freshness, but also they are preparing for a World Cup because they know what’s coming and what they have not got in terms of friendslies ahead of the tournament. So strategically it’s a bit of a unique situation and I think you are seeing it right across Europe ”
One player that certainly won’t want to be rested is England captain have, with Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for the Three Lions within touching distance. The Tottenham talisman only needs another four goals to become his country all-time top scorer, however, after playing 90 minutes against Hungary and Germany respectively will need to be left out at some stage.
Southgate highlighted Luka Modric’s exploits for Croatia in reference to Kane, but also acknowledged that Abraham needed to be tested at international level.
“Well Modric wasn’t far off that and he’s 36. So what I would say is that we’ve clearly got to look after the welfare of the players,” he added.
“That’s part of what we were doing on Saturday, with a view to having the freshness we were going to need [against Germany] to compete. But Harry is also a phenomenal professional in the way he looks after himself.
“I’m not saying he’s going to get his desire to start all four games by the way because there’s also Tammy that we want to see perform as well. But he would get himself there, that’s for sure. “
Southgate echoed similar sentiments when discussing Arsenal stopper Ramsdale. “I’m not going to give everything away but we will have a look at another goalkeeper at least once in this period,” he explained.
“We felt that was the right way to approach this set of games and we also know that we need to try and give those boys more experience as well.
“I know what I wanted from these games. I know the emphasis I put in my head and I also accept that with England you are going to be judged and you have got to win every match.
“You will be judged solely on that. But I’ve got to think a little bit different to that and accept that if there is criticism then, fine, I have got to get on with it and have got to make the right decisions for the players, for the team, to try to improve the team and if that means criticism then so be it. ”