Wednesday, 19 February, 2020

Southgate: Rashford best for England as 'wide raider'

Harry Kane runs past Gareth Southgate England look nice going ahead however shaky in defence Credit score reuters
Cary Erickson | 11 September, 2019, 01:57

England are expected to maintain their ideal start to Euro 2020 qualifying when they face Kosovo, the world's 120th-ranked team, at St Mary's on Tuesday.

The bottom line is this - England have little or no chance of beating quality worldwide sides if they defend as shoddily and carelessly as this, if they give possession away as cheaply as this and are as easy to get at as Kosovo made it look.

Kosovo are the 50th Uefa nation to play England in a soccer match.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard had a really good pre-season with his club but for the first four games of the new season, the player has come under heavy fire for his poor show. I think he can threaten teams in behind more.

I'm taking [Tuesday's] game out of the equation, because I think it will be an enjoyable game, the way they play, the way they press, the passion and enthusiasm they've got.

Rashford started on the left wing in the 4-0 win over Bulgaria at the weekend and already has 33 senior England caps to his name, despite being just 21 years of age.

And Southgate will have revelled in England's magnificent attacking display, spearheaded by a world-class performance from Raheem Sterling, who scored once as well as setting up two goals for Jadon Sancho and another for Harry Kane.

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"But in general, I think we have to be careful that we don't devalue [the main tournament]".

"For me it is a wonderful team but I have only this way in my head - I don't want to say to my team, "OK, we stay in our own half and defend, defend, defend" - I hope we can play and be an opponent, not a big opponent but and opponent with intensity".

"I remember going to Spain and thinking "well, a really tough game, but actually you look at our front three and their front three on the night and I felt that we were strong".

"But, as we've seen, we've got to make sure that everybody's at the top of their game at all times, because we have got great competition for places".

"The tactical side of the game has been good".

Sterling's pace was again the unstoppable element as he sprinted down the left, played another sumptuous pass, this time diagonally to Sancho, and the 19-year-old coolly drew the defender and goalkeeper and slid the ball between them.