Gareth Southgate explains why England are struggling to hold onto leads

Gareth Southgate explains why England are struggling to hold onto leads

Gareth Southgate believes England's collapses from 1-0 up are down to "not pressing well enough" from the front but insisted captain Harry Kane is playing injury-free.

For the second game running at Euro 2020, England squandered the initiative after Kane's 64th international goal put them ahead in Thursday’sdismal 1-1 draw with Denmark.

In the opening game, Southgate’s side held on to beat Serbia 1-0 but lacked control following Jude Bellingham's early goal.

Kane missed Bayern Munich's final game of the season with a back problem which restricted his minutes in the run-in, and the captain's pressing from the front was singled out for criticism by former England strikers Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer during the BBC's coverage of the Denmark match.

Harry Kane has scored but not consistently impressed at the Euros (AP)
Harry Kane has scored but not consistently impressed at the Euros (AP)

The Bayern forward was replaced by Ollie Watkins with 20 minutes to play, part of a triple change which saw Southgate introduce a whole new front three. Asked if Kane was playing injury-free, Southgate said: "Yes.

"We felt with the three front players that they played the bulk of the game the other day [against Serbia] and we needed to get some legs onto the pitch.

"Harry’s only had one 90 minutes in five or six weeks. Given what the other game took out of us, given the heat against Denmark, we needed to press better towards the end of the game and it was always in our mind that all of the forward players might need freshening at that point.”

Southgate, though, conceded that England's struggles when ahead are down to their lack of pressure on the ball.

"It’s because we are not pressing well enough, with enough intensity," he said. "We have limitations in how we can do that with the physical condition.

We are not keeping the ball well enough, it is as simple as that

Gareth Southgate

"We can’t press as high up the pitch as we might have done in the qualifiers for example. And we are 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."

The England manager is under pressure to make changes for Tuesday's final group game against Slovenia in Cologne, when his side will be expected to book their place in the last-16 as group winners.

"We’ll have a look at everything," Southgate said. "We felt the right thing to do was to give confidence to the players we picked in the first game. We had won the previous game, the guys who came in for the previous game, we were very happy with what they contributed so we have to do the same process after this match.

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

Asked if he was considering changing the formation, the manager added: "Too early to say. I need to review the game back, look at the opponent and find the right solutions for that, and the physical condition of everyone and go from there."