Southgate prepared for Toulon challenge

Thursday 08 May 2014
Southgate is in close contact with Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson
Gareth Southgate names his final England Under-21 squad of the season next Tuesday, with a Euro qualifier in Wales and the Toulon Tournament in France taking place this month.

The Three Lions travel to Swansea on Monday 19 May for the first game, where they will be hoping to pick up another win in the race for next summer’s Euro Championship Finals.

That’s followed by a flight to southern France for the Toulon Tournament, where England will face opposition from Brazil, Colombia, Qatar and South Korea in their initial four group games.

Toulon Tournament

Group A: Chile, China, France, Mexico, Portugal
Group B: Brazil, Colombia, England, France, Korea Republic, Qatar
 22 May - 1 June 2014
Toulon, France


And due to an age restriction for U20s in the Tournament, it means Southgate will select a larger group next week, with a number of players then dispersing after the first match at the Liberty Stadium.

"The Toulon Tournament is a chance to take the bulk of our group and maybe some players that we haven’t seen," revealed Southgate, who will also have to tailor his squad due to involvement in The FA Cup and Championship play-offs for some of the players.

"The likes of Tom Carroll, Tom Ince, Wilf Zaha, Jesse Lingard and Danny Ings are all ’92 birthdates, so they can’t go to Toulon. 

"But for the rest, we’re very much viewing it as part of the preparation for what will hopefully be a Euro play-off in October and the Under-21 finals next summer."

England haven’t sent a team to the Toulon Tournament since 2005, but remain one of the annual competition’s most successful nations, thanks to four titles in the 1990s.

But with the chance for Southgate’s squad to experience playing against teams from South America, Asia and the Middle East, the head coach believes it can only be a worthwhile exercise for everyone involved.

"We think we need to play different types of opposition," he added.  

"Individually, as players in this age group, the lads don’t often get the chance to do that."

A squad of 20 will be involved in Toulon and with four games in eight days and the possibility of another match on top of that, Southgate says everyone will be involved.

Slo-mo highlights of England's win over Wales in March


It’s a schedule that isn’t dis-similar to that which England could find in the Euro Finals next June, should they qualify, and off-pitch management can be just as important as what happens on it.

"The good thing is that we will be able to utilise the full squad so everybody is going to get equal playing time and that is important for us," revealed the former England defender.

"And it’s a good challenge for us as a staff to manage the loading and make sure we get the training and preparation right to give us the best chance of being successful.

"But we’re really looking forward to the tournament, because it’s going to be a different experience for everybody."

Tickets for England’s game with Wales in Swansea on Monday 19 May are on sale via the Liberty Stadium ticket office. They cost £5 for adults and £2 for concessions and can be booked by calling 0844 815 6665.

The first game in Toulon takes place on Thursday 22 May when Qatar are the opponents. Brazil are next up on Monday 26 May and then Colombia on Wednesday 28 May.

Korea Republic provide the opposition in the final group match on Friday 30 May, before the Toulon Final and third-fourth play-off are held on Sunday 1 June.

By Nicholas Veevers