Jack Stephens says debut sending off was 'tough to take'

Saturday 14 Nov 2015
Jack Stephens made his full debut for England U21s in the game in Sarajevo
England Under-21s defender Jack Stephens has spoken of his disappointment to be missing Monday’s Euro Qualifier with Switzerland.

The Southampton man, currently on loan with Middlesbrough, is suspended for the game at Brighton after his full debut was brought to an early end after two cautions in Thursday’s draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And the 21-year-old revealed that despite being unable to feature at the Amex Stadium, he wants to stay with Gareth Southgate’s squad as they prepare for the match in Sussex.

England v Switzerland

UEFA European U21 Championship
Group 9 Qualifier
5.45pm, Monday 16 November 2015
Amex Stadium, Brighton
Live on BT Sport
Tickets: 0844 327 1901

"It will hurt getting closer to Monday and it will eat away at me," he admitted.

"But I will support the boys and stay with the squad, I want to stay 100 per cent, it is one of the highlights of the season to come away with the Under-21s. 

"There is a really good group of lads here and I really enjoy it.

"I am gutted I let the boys down and left them with ten men, but they dug in and kept the clean sheet which was important."

Stephens, who had only ever been sent off once and cautioned twice in his career previously, admits he still feels a little raw at the decisions taken to send him off in Sarajevo.

Jack Stephens leaves the pitch in Sarajevo after his red card against Bosnia-Herzegovina

Stephens says his sending-off against Bosnia was 'tough to take' following two cautions

With both bookings picked up in the space of 14 second-half minutes, in a game which saw Bosnia commit almost double the number of fouls to England, the former Swindon Town loanee felt it was harsh.

"It was tough to take, I made two fouls in the game and they were both yellow cards," he said. 

"I just have to take it on the chin, the referee let a lot go and one of their players had three or four fouls before he was even spoken to. 

"I’m not a nasty player and would never hurt anyone, but you have to deal with it and I will learn from it.

"I apologised to Gareth [Southgate]. Even though I didn’t think it was fair, I thought it was only right and important to apologise."

Watch the highlights of Thursday's game in Sarajevo

In response, Southgate was also quick to re-assure his player on the matter after the game having also felt the Cornwall-born centre-half was harshly adjudged.

"I don’t think it’s a sending off to kill Jack on, it’s an outcome of a bobbly pitch, a bad bounce and he has to come across and their lad made a meal of it - he’s very unfortunate," explained the Three Lions head coach.

"He’s tried to cover and he’s had to be committed to making the challenge and the pitch is so difficult to read.

"It was a horrible game for defenders really, so there will be no recriminations of him for it and we’ll pick him up over the next few days."

Tickets for Monday’s game at the Amex Stadium cost just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions and are available by calling 0844 327 1901 or by clicking here.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Brighton