Southgate says places are up for grabs in Euro squad

Saturday 04 Apr 2015
Southgate says his side can learn from the first 25 minutes of the game with Germany
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Gareth Southgate has revealed that there are still places up for grabs in his England Under-21s squad for this summer’s Euro Finals.

The Three Lions head to Czech Republic for the competition in June, having secured their qualification with a play-off victory over Croatia last October.

And with victories over three of their fellow finalists in subsequent friendlies against Portugal, Czech Republic and Germany, Southgate admits he’s happy with the players at his disposal.

UEFA European Under-21 Championship

The Finals
17-30 June 2015
Prague, Olomouc, Uherske Hradiste
Czech Republic

"We've got depth, which really excites me," revealed the head coach, who must pick a 23-man squad for the Finals. 

"I don't think you can go to a tournament relying on a couple of players.

"We started out with the likes of Raheem [Sterling] and Luke Shaw in the squad and we've had to win matches at all of these times without those players, people like Saido Berahino, Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard, and we've kept doing it.

"New players have emerged so for the 23-man squad, I'm probably reasonably clear on 21.

"There's still a couple of places that, in my mind, people are playing for. There's probably about 28 or 29 players who I think I can select from and it's clear who those people are that would go in. 

Watch the highlights from Monday's game at Middlesbrough

"I need to think about who gives us the best options in terms of changing games and having that adaptability.

"But I know whoever goes will be totally committed and there won't be any loafing around or lads who think it's a chore to go.

"They'll all be backing their team-mates and I think that's important."

Southgate’s squad finished off their latest meet-up with an impressive 3-2 win over Germany in Middlesbrough last Monday after previously staying for four days at their summer base in Olomouc before taking on the host nation in Prague.

But despite those results, Southgate saw enough from aspects of their performance to know that there is still plenty of work to be done before the group head back to Czech Republic for the finals.

England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate

Southgate's side take on Portugal, Sweden and Italy at the Euro Finals this summer

"There's a lot to work on and we can improve, so that's a good start point for us next time," he revealed.

"We have belief in the group of players, they're fantastic to work with and we believe that they can play at a very high level.

"But we believe because of the talent and attitude that they have, we can keep pushing them and we have to keep pushing because the standard will go up again in the summer.

"Everybody else will be more competitive again and we will have to be the same."

Southgate plans to get some of his squad together in May following the end of the Championship season.

The full squad will then meet up in early June at St. George’s Park to start their preparations for the Euros, which start on Thursday 18 June against Portugal in Uherske Hradiste.

By Nicholas Veevers