Eng­land, Italy look to their youth for Euro berth

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport -

Paris: Eng­land and Italy are clos­ing in on qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Euro 2020 as the two coun­tries’ tal­ented young squads search for the sin­gle win that would guar­an­tee them a place at a land­mark tour­na­ment with matches to spare. The pair are two of five teams that can qual­ify for next sum­mer’s tour­na­ment in the com­ing round of matches, held over Oc­to­ber 10-12. Spain and Group I ri­vals Bel­gium and Rus­sia can also lock up an early place.

With two teams qual­i­fy­ing from each of the 10 groups, Eng­land need just a win at the Czech Repub­lic on Fri­day to en­sure qual­i­fi­ca­tion from the five-team Group A af­ter a per­fect run of four vic­to­ries from four that has put Gareth South­gate’s side four points clear of third-placed Kosovo, who have played a game more.

South­gate has built on tak­ing Eng­land to the semi-fi­nals of the 2018 World Cup, with his side crash­ing home 19 goals in a dom­i­nant qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign. The Eng­land man­ager has been helped by the blos­som­ing, at 24, of Ra­heem Ster­ling who af­ter scor­ing four goals in his first 47 Eng­land ap­pear­ances has scored six in his last six.

South­gate has also cap­i­talised on the emer­gence of young play­ers such as West Ham’s De­clan Rice, 20, and 19-year-old Jadon San­cho, who bagged his first Eng­land goals in the 5-3 win over Kosovo last time and is a main­stay for Borus­sia Dort­mund.

Young Chelsea trio Ma­son Mount, Fikayo To­mori and Tammy Abra­ham are the lat­est play­ers to be re­warded by South­gate for their im­pres­sive club dis­plays, with Mount and the Pre­mier League’s joint-lead­ing scorer Abra­ham among the rev­e­la­tions of the early-sea­son fix­tures.

Roberto Mancini mean­while has con­tin­ued his re­build­ing of Italy while col­lect­ing six wins from six in Group J. His youth­ful Az­zurri have a chance of book­ing their ticket against Greece on Satur­day. They need to beat the Greeks at the Sta­dio Olimpico in Rome and hope that third-placed Ar­me­nia fail to beat rock-bot­tom Liecht­en­stein, who have con­ceded 19 goals so far.

Re­gard­less, Italy are al­most guar­an­teed a place in the Eu­ros as they are nine points ahead of Ar­me­nia with four matches re­main­ing. If they fail this time, they will have a se­cond chance later in this in­ter­na­tional break, when they visit Liecht­en­stein on Oc­to­ber 15 on match­day eight.

For­mer In­ter Mi­lan and Manch­ester City boss Mancini has taken the broom to the side that failed to qual­ify for the World Cup and thrown his trust be­hind young tal­ent like In­ter Mi­lan mid­fielder Ni­colo Barella, high­lyrated Roma at­tacker Ni­colo Zan­iolo and AC Mi­lan goal­keeper Gian­luigi Don­narumma.

CATCH THEM YOUNG: Gareth South­gate

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