Southgate setting high standards for Three Lions

Friday 31 Oct 2014
Under-21s head coach Southgate expects a good game with Portugal
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Gareth Southgate is pleased to have what he believes will be a firm test of England Under-21s’ Euro credentials in Burnley next month.

The Three Lions host fellow Euro Finalists Portugal at Turf Moor as focus turns towards preparing for next summer’s tournament in Czech Republic.

England v Portugal 

International U21 Match
7.45pm, Thursday 13 November 2014
Turf Moor, Burnley FC
Live on BT Sport
Call 01282 70003 for tickets

And with Portugal winning all ten of their games in qualifying, including a comprehensive play-off victory against Holland in October, Southgate believes it will be his side’s toughest match yet.

"The game against Portugal at Turf Moor will be a really good test for us," he said. 

"I think they will be one of the best teams in the Finals next summer so it will be a really good benchmark for us. 

"We want matches that are really going to challenge us because we’ve got to look to improve between now and next June, rather than just tread water and wait for next summer to come around."

Following England’s play-off tie against Croatia – a 4-2 aggregate win for Southgate’s side – planning for the Finals next June has already begun.

With the Portugal game first up, the squad will then head to France for what will be another competitive match in Brest.

And with the qualification process over, the work and development of Southgate’s side now takes on more importance, rather than the results. 

Watch highlights from the second leg of England's Euro play-off win against Croatia

 

"The fixtures against Portugal and France and those next March are important for us," he added. 

"What we do in-between those games and in the meet-ups we have is important, but everything is geared around really stretching ourselves in those games. 

"There’s a good chance that we won’t win all of these games, but I’m not afraid of us getting beaten. 

"I think what we will learn from the games and the way that we play and what we work on in the meet-ups will be just as key as the results in the next couple of matches.

"We looked at how we could get experience against some of the best nations and France will be another of those, despite missing out in the play-offs themselves last month."

Tickets for the game at Turf Moor cost just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Call 01282 70003 for more details.

Click here to apply for group bookings for 15 people or more (no age restrictions and bookable in advance only): £5 adults and £2.50 concessions.

And Charter Standard clubs clubs can apply for group bookings via the attached form here.

Watch Gareth Southgate's stirring post-match team-talk

 


By Nicholas Veevers