Southgate keen to manage the minutes for double header

Monday 23 Mar 2015
Southgate's squad trained for the first time in Olomouc on Monday evening
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Gareth Southgate plans to use the withdrawal of five players from his England Under-21s squad as a chance to see the rest of his group in action.

The Three Lions head coach and his squad met up for their trip to Czech Republic on Sunday evening, with strikers Saido Berahino, Patrick Bamford and Callum Wilson all pulling out after picking up knocks for their clubs.

Czech Republic v England

U21s International Match
7.30pm, Friday 27 March 2015
Latna Stadium, Prague

They were joined by midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah who returned to Reading on Monday morning after initially reporting for duty, whilst Spurs defender Eric Dier has remained at White Hart Lane for treatment but may still link up for the game with Germany in Middlesbrough next Monday.

And after seeing his initial 23-man group whittled down to 18, Southgate is now keen to wisely manage the minutes for all of those remaining to give everyone equal time on the pitch.

"It gives us a chance to give pretty much everybody a start," he said, after the group’s first training session in Olomouc, where they will also be based for June's Euro Finals. 

"It keeps people involved and together and gives players a chance to stake a claim for starting places.

England Under-21s in training in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

The squad trained at the Andruv Stadium, home of Czech second division side Sigma Olomouc

"There are still one or two places in the squad still up for grabs, so it’s important that people take those opportunities.

"We’ve got quality throughout and there are players out there that we could have called into the squad but realistically, we’ve got four or five attacking players missing and that, coupled with what we’ve got here is likely to be the squad for the summer.

"I didn’t want to bring people in just for one event and we could have brought more players from the younger teams, but they’ve got games this week where they will get the chance to start."

With the remaining few months of the season still left to play before England return to Olomouc, Southgate is more than aware of the domestic demands on many of his players.

And he hopes that by allowing those players who didn’t travel a chance to fully recover over the next ten days, it can only aid their prospects for June.

England Under-21s train in Olomouc ahead of their game with Czech Republic.

All 18 players trained after travelling to Czech Republic on Monday afternoon

"A few of the players who have had to pull out have been playing with injuries and not training, so that isn’t ideal," he revealed.

"From our point of view, to get them in better condition for the summer, you’re better to get some of these injuries closed off for a couple of weeks and hopefully by the time they’re back playing with their clubs, that’s given things a chance to settle.

"We’re mindful that pretty much everybody here is involved in a promotion or relegation battle or a push for Europe and there are none that are playing meaningless games.

"We’ve got to be conscious of that and we’ll manage how many minutes they play in two good tests which we want to really have a go at.

"There’s still a few weeks left in the season so we don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, but still the squad that we have brought out here is very strong."

Watch footage of Monday's training session and hear from head coach Gareth Southgate

 


By Nicholas Veevers in Olomouc, Czech Republic