Gareth Southgate believes his side will improve in October after more time to rebuild

Tuesday 06 Oct 2020
Gareth Southgate has picked a larger squad than usual to cope with three games in a week

Gareth Southgate believes time with his squad will be the perfect healer, as they approach October’s games with Wales, Belgium and Denmark.

The Three Lions kicked-off their UEFA Nations League campaign on the road last month with a narrow win against Iceland and a draw with Denmark.

And Southgate admits that while the performances weren’t up to the standards which we’ve come to expect from his team, he knows the enforced break from the COVID-19 outbreak made a significant impact.

"Ultimately, as an England team you're always judged by 90 minutes on the field and everything behind the scenes is perfect,” said Southgate.

"But there's a reality with what we were dealing with then, and what we're dealing with now.

“We were ten months with no games, not a training session, so how do you develop as a team in those ten months? You can't, it's impossible.

"So we weren't building in September, we were starting again really. Some principles are understood and the methods of working with the players who've been with us a long time were understood but really, you're starting again.

"Add into that eight players who had missed huge chunks of training with their clubs before they came in, five injuries and six players coming straight back from holiday and their clubs in the middle of a pre-season and physically the players were nowhere near the level needed to play at an elite end.

“I think you can still see with their clubs, there are some players that are up to speed and some that are still getting that fitness.

"None of the clubs had that break that they would want, none had the pre-season that they would want so to be at the top of your game at this time is almost impossible.

"These [October] games are still invaluable for us, I've got to be measured in what I expect in terms of the performance, but we've got to try and win the three matches.”

By Nicholas Veevers