Southgate says Under-21s have 'proved they can play'

Tuesday 12 May 2015
Gareth Southgate will name his squad for the Euro Finals in late May
Gareth Southgate believes his England Under-21s squad have earned the confidence to go into this summer’s Euro Finals with a swagger.

The Three Lions squad will meet up in early June to prepare for their trip to Czech Republic after qualifying in impressive style last October. They then beat fellow Finalists Portugal, Czech Republic and Germany in subsequent friendlies.

UEFA European U21 Championship

The Finals
17-30 June 2015
Czech Republic
Group A: Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Serbia
Group B: England, Italy, Portugal, Sweden

And head coach Southgate wants his players to keep their attractive style of play and momentum on the biggest stage, when England go into competitive action again next month.

"The players have proved they can play in a certain style and that they can play against top teams," said Southgate, who took over the U21s at the start of the campaign in September 2013.

"What we have to do now is to transfer that into a tournament and that means how to deal with a game that maybe doesn’t go your way. 

Watch the highlights from the Under-21s' last game in March, a win over fellow Euro Finalists Germany

"You want to go to a tournament with hope, but you’ve got to have realistic belief. 

"And what’s that based on? For us, we won the play-off game playing in the style that we wanted and we’ve beaten three of the teams in the Finals in friendly matches. 

"So we do have belief – and it’s built on firm foundations. But I also think we can improve."

England will face one of the teams they’ve already beaten this season in their first group game of the Euros, when they tackle Portugal on Thursday 18 June.

The sides met in November at Burnley’s Turf Moor home, a game which England won by 3-1 thanks to a double from Danny Ings and a strike from Carl Jenkinson.

But Southgate knows that result will have no bearing when they line-up again in Uherske Hradiste.

Gareth Southgate

Southgate has been impressed with his side's style of play in their last few games

"Yes, we all want to win the first game to build momentum – but how are you going to react if it doesn’t go the way you had hoped?" he considered. 

"So you’ve got to manage getting out of the group and that’s three games. 

"If momentum builds then that’s great, but they’ve got to know how to handle a tournament and deal with everything that it throws up.

"We have to keep improving as we go into the summer and I think our players have the mindset that they want to be the best they can be."

Southgate will name his squad for the Euro Finals later this month, with the players meeting at St. George’s Park on 2 June to begin their training.

By Nicholas Veevers