Un­capped Gib­son gets England call as Southgate pre­pares for Lithua­nia

Saturday Star - - SOCCER -

LON­DON: England man­ager Gareth Southgate has called up un­capped Mid­dles­brough de­fender Ben Gib­son for to­mor­row’s World Cup qual­i­fier against Lithua­nia at Wem­b­ley.

Gib­son re­places the in­jured Chris Smalling, who played in England’s 1-0 de­feat by Ger­many in a friendly in Dort­mund on Wed­nes­day and has re­turned to his club Manch­ester United for treat­ment.

Fel­low centre-back Gary Cahill, who cap­tained the side in Ger­many, is sus­pended for the Lithua­nia game and has also left the train­ing camp.

Gib­son, 24, has never won a se­nior cap for England, but played for the Un­der-21s un­der Southgate.

Mean­while, Southg ate needs more time to solve England’s cap­taincy prob­lem, the man­ager has said.

Southgate will name his fourth cap­tain in six games this weekend.

Manch­ester United striker Wayne Rooney and Liverpool mid­fielder Jor­dan Hen­der­son, both ab­sent from the English squad, have pre­vi­ously cap­tained the side un­der Southgate.

“I guess I am giv­ing my­self time to think through what the best sce­nario (for cap­taincy) is, re­ally,” Southgate told the British me­dia.

“We did that with Gary (Cahill in Ger­many). I know he’s not play­ing on Sun­day and it is op­por­tu­nity to share that re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I think people have stepped up in their per­for­mance, so there were people that weren’t wear­ing the ar mband that played with the ball as lead­ers.”

The for­mer Mid­dles­brough boss said goal­keeper Joe Hart could be next in line for the cap­taincy role but he pre­ferred de­vel­op­ing more lead­ers in the squad.

“It’s some­thing I want to think through, but it is not as im­por­tant to me as mak­ing sure there is more devel­op­ment and that more are given re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

England are top of Europe’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing Group F hav­ing won three of their four games, and are two points clear of sec­ond-placed Slove­nia.

Mean­while, England’s foot­ball au­thor­i­ties are still work­ing with the po­lice to iden­tify the na­tional team’s sup­port­ers who were in­volved in “dis­re­spect­ful and dis­ap­point­ing” be­hav­iour dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s in­ter na­tional against Ger­many.

English FA of­fi­cials are li­ais­ing with the UK Foot­ball Polic­ing Unit as they re­view video footage of the match.

England’s 1-0 friendly de­feat was marred by sup­port­ers who booed the Ger­man na­tional an­them and sang songs about World War Two, be­hav­iour which has been widely con­demned by lead­ing foot­ball fig­ures and British me­dia.

Some noted with dis­may how the chants, which in­cluded one song about Ger­man planes be­ing shot down, had oc­curred just hours af­ter the ter­ror­ist at­tack in Lon­don.

FA chair­man Greg Clarke led the con­dem­na­tion, say­ing in a state­ment on Thurs­day: “The be­hav­iour of a sec­tion of the England sup­port in Dort­mund ... was in­ap­pro­pri­ate, dis­re­spect­ful and dis­ap­point­ing.

“The FA has con­sis­tently urged sup­port­ers to show re­spect and not to chant songs that could be re­garded as in­sult­ing to oth­ers.

“In­di­vid­u­als who en­gage in such be­hav­iour do not rep­re­sent the over­whelm­ing ma­jor- ity of England fans nor the val­ues and iden­tity we should aspire to as a foot­ball na­tion.”

Any mem­bers of the England Sup­port­ers Travel Club found to have been in­volved with the anti-so­cial be­hav­iour face a pos­si­ble or­der ban­ning them from at­tend­ing games.

The England fans’ be­hav­iour was de­scribed by for­mer Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur man­ager David Pleat on the BBC as “pa­thetic ig­no­rance” that was “scar­ring our rep­u­ta­tion around the world”. – Reuters

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