Southgate targets Toulon Tournament title for Under-21s

Saturday 28 May 2016
England U21s boss Gareth Southgate
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England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate says he takes a confident squad into the Toulon Tournament final on Sunday, after four wins from four in the competition so far.

A first-half goal from Lewis Baker, his third of the tournament, against Japan on Friday afternoon was enough to ensure the Three Lions ended Group B with a perfect record following earlier wins over Portugal, Guinea and Paraguay.

And they will now face host nation France in Sunday’s showdown in Avignon, after Les Bleus also finished with a 100 per cent record in Group A, in a match which Southgate is determined to win.

France v England

Toulon Tournament
The Final
6.45pm, Sunday 29 May 2016
Parc des Sports, Avignon, France
Live on BT Sport

"We’re the first English team to get the final since 1994, so we’d like to go on and win the competition now," said Southgate following Friday’s victory.

"It’s a great challenge for us to play France in the next game, but with all of the different experiences the players have had this week, it’s just one more to add to it.

"My objective at the start was that everyone would start two matches and we’ve done that, so not only has it shared the workload but it’s given lads important experience of international football.

"To be able to do that and win every match is really pleasing.

"We set the objectives on Friday morning, as we’ve had ten matches this season and we’ve drawn two and won eight so we have one more to go."

With such a quick turnaround before Sunday afternoon’s Final, the squad will have a recovery session at their Bandol base on Saturday morning before training in the afternoon in Toulon.


And then they will make the journey north to Avignon, with Southgate boasting a fully-fit squad all fighting for a place in the starting line-up on Sunday aside from Ben Chilwell who returned home with an injury on Thursday. 

"I’m really pleased with the lads that came into the side," he added. 

"We knew Japan would be more of a football game than the slight war we had in a couple of the other matches.

"And we had to answer some difficult questions, but we showed some nice moments in possession of the ball and John Swift started the game really well and his contribution led to the penalty.

"So we were really pleased at the end because they put us under a lot of pressure and we had a lot of changes in the back four through the second half, so to keep the clean sheet and be professional enough to get the win was a pleasing aspect.

"We’ve talked a lot about the standards that we’ve set and the mentality that we’ve set and one or two of the lads that finished the game today were feeling it as they hadn’t played as much first team football, so an intense schedule like we’ve had really finds people out in that aspect.

"So great credit to them that they kept going."

By Nicholas Veevers in Toulon, France