Sunday, July 14, 2024

Worrying England fitness update as Southgate reveals team can’t play like before

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ENGLAND’S squad were given a lift by a yoga guru after Gareth Southgate admitted his stars are drained.

The under-fire Three Lions boss is considering changing his team and formation for Tuesday’s final Group C game against Slovenia.

Gareth Southgate has given a concerning update on England’s fitnessCredit: Getty
Harry Kane picked up a back injury while at Bayern MunichCredit: Getty
Southgate could rotate his star players for the final group gameCredit: Rex

And Southgate concedes his players, including skipper Harry Kane, were lethargic in Thursday’s drab 1-1 draw with Denmark.

The players took part in a yoga session hosted by Dr Rebekah Jade at their Blankenhain base.

Southgate said: “We are not pressing well enough, with enough intensity.

“We have limitations in how we can do that with the physical condition.

“We cannot press as high up the pitch as we might have done in the qualifiers, for example. And not keeping the ball well enough. It is as simple as that.  We have to keep the ball better and build with more control.

“Then we will be defending less and we’ll have more confidence.”
Kane was subbed  on 70 minutes against Denmark and has struggled for sharpness since returning from a back injury at the end of last season.

Southgate said: “Harry’s only had one 90 minutes in five or six weeks.”

As for making changes against Slovenia, Southgate said: “We’ll have a look at everything.


“We’ll look at the  performance and look at the next opponent and find the best solutions for the next game.

“We felt the right thing to do against Denmark was to give confidence to the players we picked in the first game. We had won the previous game.”

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ENGLAND stumbled to a drab 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Here’s how SunSport’s Tom Barclay rated the Three Lions team.

Jordan Pickford: 6

Looked a little jittery early doors, though there was nothing he could do about Morten Hjulmand’s corker and he made a decent parry after the break.

Kyle Walker: 7 

Made England’s opener by racing round a sleeping Victor Kristiansen – he’ll be having nightmares of that forevermore – and teeing up Kane via a deflected cross.

John Stones: 6

OK but you have got to wonder how fit he feels having barely played for Man City in the second half of the season, plus his injury and illness issues over the last month.

Marc Guehi: 8 and my star man

Really encouraging again from the Crystal Palace centre-back, looking sharp with his interceptions and assured in distribution.

Kieran Trippier: 6

Like Stones, he was fine, but England really need Luke Shaw back ASAP because having no natural left-footer at left-back is a problem.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5

This experiment of playing Trent in midfield is far from convincing, especially when his passing was off it like it was here, barring one good ball to Saka. Subbed on 54 minutes.

Declan Rice: 5

Had to cover so much ground as England dropped worryingly deep in the first half and also lost it a few times in front of his back four.

Bukayo Saka: 7

Not quite as electric as his first half against Serbia, but another solid showing from our right winger who has been our most consistent attacker across the two games.

Jude Bellingham: 6

Nowhere near the majestic display he put in against Serbia and one of many who looked tired.

Phil Foden: 7

Was far more involved than against Serbia – although that was not hard – and had a few dangerous efforts from range, including one that smacked the post after the break.

Harry Kane: 6

Netted his 64th goal for his country with an opener he could not really miss, but then gave the ball away from Denmark’s leveller. Surprisingly subbed.


Conor Gallagher (on for Trent, 54): 7

Vital clearance on the stretch when Christian Eriksen was lurking and was not afraid to put his foot in.

Ollie Watkins (on for Kane, 70): 6

Played in by Bellingham’s lovely ball after coming on but could not finish from an acute angle.

Jarrod Bowen (on for Foden, 69): 6

Copped a nasty tackle which saw Joakim Maehle booked.

Eberechi Eze (on for Saka, 69): 6

On for his tournament bow though he was rarely involved.

England’s players were put through a series of stretches by NHS doctor Jade, who runs wellness retreats.

In the gym where they performed exercises like ‘downward dog’, the wall was emblazoned with motivational messages.

One read: “Be brave. Be a leader. Be resilient. Commit. Win.”

Another said: “Find your greatness.”

Denmark got yesterday  off as boss  Kasper Hjulmand aims to create ‘hygge’ — the Danish word meaning to escape the daily rush and enjoy life’s quieter pleasures.

Hjulmand said: “It’s the first day off since June 3 and it’s important to get away for a bit.

“I don’t know what they will do. People just need to be, to lick their wounds.”

Meanwhile, Southgate said he always expected a bumpy road in their bid to win the Euros.

He added: “We have to guide the team through the difficult period that is coming but really stay on track and focus on this challenge ahead.

“We are trying to do something that has never been done before. So that is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster.

“It’s not going to go smoothly when you are trying to achieve extraordinary things. They are bloody difficult.

“So we have to accept the level of expectations, we have to accept the arena we are in.

“And we have to find a better way of playing.

“We are in a different situation to the previous tournaments we have been in but, in other ways, exactly the same — with four points after two games.  But we know the performance level has to be better.

“We’ve got some strong leaders in the dressing room here who have been in situations like this and will play their part in lifting people.

“We have to play better. I’m not going to hide from the realities of that.

“I have to find the solutions to doing that.”

Pundits and legends lay into England

ENGLAND’s lifeless display in the 1-1 draw with Denmark left pundits and legends queuing up to take a dig at Gareth Southgate’s team.

Here’s the best of what was said…


“Awful performance, particularly after going up in the game.

“I don’t think one England player can look at themselves and say, ‘I’ve done my job tonight’.

“England were all over the place, far too sloppy in possession, gave the ball away too much and got caught too many times.

“There was no energy, no pace, no guile — Southgate is simply not getting the best out of England’s best players.

“It’s concerning and Gareth will get some serious questions.

“You saw England players lying on their backs — they look absolutely shattered but there’s no excuse for that.”


The BBC host called the performance “lifeless and tepid”.

On Harry Kane he said: “He needs his manager to ask more of him. I would have expected that if I’d put in that kind of performance.”


“The players don’t look the same as they do for their clubs. It is a big concern.”


“Courage and bravery, we’re not really seeing it.

“There’s something amiss with the balance. Bellingham is waving his arms.

“This is a big test for Gareth. It looks like he’s overthinking things.”


“My big worry watching this and for the rest of the tournament?

“England look absolutely knackered. They can’t get close to the ball.

“The surest sign of fatigue is dropping deep.

“Declan Rice is having to cover so much ground. No-one can convince me this is a strategy.”


“It’s strange that we have taken the lead in both games so far, yet instead of it settling us down and giving us the confidence to play, we have failed to take control.

“But what was most worrying was that Denmark had a clear way of playing — while we didn’t.”


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