Gareth Southgate rules out wholesale changes to England team for Slovenia clash

Gareth Southgate rules out wholesale changes to England team for Slovenia clash

Gareth Southgate has ruled out the prospect of making significant changes for England's third and final Euro 2024 group game against Slovenia, saying he is reluctant to "rip everything up and go in a completely different direction".

England were below par in the 1-0 win over Serbia and 1-1 draw with Denmark, but will qualify for the last-16 stage as group winners if they beat Slovenia here in Cologne on Tuesday.

Southgate is expected to bring in Conor Gallagher for Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield but there have been calls for more wholesale changes in the wake of a dismal performance against the Danes.

Declan Rice has promised “an England team tomorrow that will have a different pressing style” but Southgate is wary of a “knee-jerk” reaction to the first two games."The big risk is you have a knee-jerk reaction and you move away from things that are going well," the manager said. "You can rip everything up and go in a completely different direction but what’s actually going well?

Your best players are still your best players ... we shouldn’t be throwing everything out of the window

Gareth Southgate

"We don’t want to lose what’s going well. Then it’s, 'Okay, how can we add to what we’re doing?'

"Your best players are still your best players. We might not have functioned as a team as we would have liked for a large part of the second game and a half of the first game but that doesn’t mean what we’ve been doing for the last two years in particular and the period before that, we shouldn’t be throwing everything out of the window."

Several pundits, including former England internationals Jamie Carragher and Alan Shearer, have called for Southgate to start Newcastle winger Anthony Gordon to provide some balance on the left flank.

A deeper role for Jude Bellingham or the introductions of Adam Wharton or Kobbie Mainoo in midfield have been mooted as possible changes to the side.

“We have to stay calm and make sensible decisions and make the right calls, keep everybody on track," Southgate added. "We were pretty certain four points would qualify us [for the last-16] and then it’s about winning the group.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"We’ve trodden this path before, we’re exactly where we were points wise in the last Euros, scored a goal more and conceded a goal more. On the path to the next round and now we want to control our destiny by winning the group."

England's work off the ball against Denmark received widespread criticism, with Southgate admitting after the game that his players were not fit enough to press their opponents.

"We’re definitely making progress," he said, when asked about the team's physical condition. "When you think that when we got Marc Guehi through the door, he’d had a 70 minutes which was the most he’d played for Crystal Palace in the last three months.

"Tripps [Kieran Trippier] hadn’t had a 90 minutes for three months. Then Harry [Kane] and others coming back from injuries as well.

“So two days in, with a bit of recovery time all those players will be in a better place that’s for certain. And that’s definitely going to help us as we progress through the tournament.

"Our identity for a while has been pretty clear," Southgate continued.

"We haven’t quite seen that in the first couple of games and there was a need to have a reset button and have open and honest conversations but that is a reflection.

"We reflect as a coaching team. The players are reflective. So nobody has been ducking anything this week, nobody has been alone in their thoughts.

“It’s a real collective because we’re all on the same page. That allows us to assess where we were and how we need to progress in the same direction."