South­gate backs Man Utd duo af­ter Jose re­buke

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ENG­LAND in­terim man­ager Gareth South­gate is sat­is­fied Manch­ester United’s Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw are gen­uinely in­jured, he said yes­ter­day, de­spite reser­va­tions voiced by their club man­ager Jose Mour­inho.

“They didn’t play, so there’s a med­i­cal is­sue,” he said. “Chris hasn’t played for the last four games.

“We have re­ally good re­la­tion­ships, med­i­cal-to-med­i­cal, with all clubs. I’ve got great trust in our med­i­cal team that they’ll make the right calls.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a dif­fi­cult one be­cause I don’t know the rea­son for the com­ments Jose’s made.”

Smalling has missed United’s last four games with a foot prob­lem, while Shaw has en­dured nig­gling in­juries since mak­ing his come­back from a dou­ble leg frac­ture sus­tained in Septem­ber 2015.

On Shaw, South­gate said: “If he wasn’t fit to play yes­ter­day (Sun­day) – and he was with us in Septem­ber un­der (for­mer Eng­land man­ager) Sam (Al­lardyce) and was feel­ing prob­lems with the leg – there’s clearly some­thing.

“Af­ter an in­jury as se­vere as that, we’ve got to han­dle that with care as well. It’s a dif­fi­cult bal­ance to find. But that’s where we have to trust our med­i­cal teams.

“I think it’s so dif­fi­cult with any player. Every in­jury is dif­fer­ent, every in­di­vid­ual is dif­fer­ent.

“I’ve not known play­ers not play un­less there’s some­thing. Hav­ing been a player, that would be my view on it.”

Eng­land tackle old ri­vals Scot­land in a World Cup qual­i­fier at Wem­b­ley on Fri­day be­fore bring­ing the cur­tain down on 2016 with a home friendly against Spain the fol­low­ing Tues­day.

South­gate, placed in tem­po­rary charge af­ter Al­lardyce was brought down by a news­pa­per st­ing, was a mem­ber of the Eng­land team that over­came Scot­land 2-0 in a group-stage match at Euro 96.

The game at Wem­b­ley was il­lu­mi­nated by a fa­mous goal from Paul Gascoigne, who lifted the ball over Scot­land cen­tre­back Colin Hendry’s head be­fore vol­ley­ing home.

Gascoigne, Eng­land’s mid­field tal­is­man at the time, was a bun­dle of ner­vous en­ergy and South­gate re­vealed the lengths that were taken to calm him down be­fore kick­off.

“(Eng­land coach) Bobby Rob­son made him a fish­ing rod and he was pre­tend fish­ing in the bath at Wem­b­ley,” South­gate told jour­nal­ists at Eng­land’s St Ge­orge’s Park base.

“Be­cause that was the only time he ever re­laxed. Make of that what you will!

While the Eng­land-Scot­land fix­ture no longer res­onates as widely as it once did, South­gate is ea­ger to im­press the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the ri­valry upon his play­ers.

“It’s the old­est in­ter­na­tional fix­ture. The ri­valry is ob­vi­ous, the his­tory be­tween the two coun­tries is ob­vi­ous,” he said.

“We could build it up to be as big as we want. For us it’s a game of foot­ball that is go­ing to help us qual­ify for a World Cup. That is the key.

“But we should em­brace the emo­tion of the oc­ca­sion. That’s what sport is about.

“Be­cause every time you play for Eng­land, you have a chance to make some his­tory, or to play in a game that peo­ple will re­mem­ber for­ever, and that’s in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful.” – AFP

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