South­gate to start ‘con­fi­dent’ San­cho against Kosovo

Eng­land man­ager brings in teenager for Rash­ford Alexan­der-arnold and Chilwell join start­ing XI

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Euro 2020 Qualifier - By Ja­son Burt CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Jadon San­cho will start Eng­land’s Euro 2020 qual­i­fier against Kosovo tonight af­ter Gareth South­gate said there was no point hold­ing back the 19-year-old winger.

It means a change will be made to a for­ward line that the Eng­land man­ager hailed as among the best in in­ter­na­tional foot­ball af­ter the 4-0 win over Bul­garia on Satur­day at Wem­b­ley.

Mar­cus Rash­ford is set to be left out against Kosovo, who are ranked 120th in the world but rated by South­gate as the most dan­ger­ous op­po­nents in Group A.

South­gate said he was not sure there was now enough “jeop­ardy” in the qual­i­fi­ca­tion process for ma­jor tour­na­ments – and that he was against the ex­panded for­mat of 24 teams tak­ing part in the fi­nals next sum­mer.

He ex­empted Kosovo from crit­i­cism but, in a sense, South­gate is pre­pared to cre­ate his own jeop­ardy by shak­ing up a win­ning team. Both full-backs are ex­pected to be changed, with Trent Alexan­derarnold com­ing in for Kieran Trip­pier on the right and Ben Chilwell se­lected ahead of Danny Rose on the left.

But it will be the in­clu­sion of San­cho which will ex­cite the Eng­land fans as the Three Li­ons play their first fix­ture at St Mary’s since Oc­to­ber 2002 when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Mace­do­nia, in an­other Euro qual­i­fier, and South­gate was among the sub­sti­tutes.

“We’ve got play­ers that we need to find [out] more about, give ex­pe­ri­ence to, but in games where there’s plenty rid­ing on it, not that we’ve al­ready qual­i­fied,” South­gate said. “So, we need to see peo­ple per­form un­der pres­sure and how they’re go­ing to cope with that. I think that tomorrow will be the case be­cause it will be a proper test for us.”

San­cho comes into that cat­e­gory. The London-born Borus­sia Dort­mund player has al­ready im­pressed in his seven ap­pear­ances for Eng­land. This will be his third com­pet­i­tive start as he stakes his claim to join Harry Kane and Ra­heem Ster­ling in attack.

“He’s con­fi­dent in his own abil­ity, you can see that in the way that he plays,” South­gate said. “I think he’s one that, be­cause of where he plays his club foot­ball, he still goes un­der the radar a lit­tle bit in terms of the qual­ity of his per­for­mances and the level that he’s play­ing at every week.

“So, I said when I named the squad, he’s not a player we’re look­ing to hold back. He’s a real com­pe­ti­tion. We talked re­ally pos­i­tively about the front three the other day. He’s one that’s in that sort of bracket, so we look at him and Cal­lum [Hudson-odoi], who had such a big im­pact in his first cou­ple of caps as well.

“You see him play for Dort­mund, he’s very dili­gent in his work as well

‘There isn’t enough jeop­ardy to make all of the groups as ex­cit­ing as they could be’

as the fact that he’s ex­cit­ing in his abil­ity to beat peo­ple and we talked the other day about his de­ci­sion­mak­ing when he’s run­ning at speed and he’s able to find a pass and the right se­lec­tion of pass, more of­ten than not.”

South­gate is aware that Eng­land only have seven more matches be­fore next sum­mer’s tour­na­ment should, as ex­pected, they qual­ify com­fort­ably as they top their group with three wins from three matches and 14 goals scored.

It means he has lit­tle time to give op­por­tu­ni­ties to the young play­ers he has brought in while also hon­ing his squad – and the style of play he wants when they meet some of Europe’s leading na­tions.

“That’s what we’ve got to think about in team se­lec­tions over the next, well, we’re only seven games away from nam­ing a squad. So, we’ve got to give peo­ple [op­por­tu­ni­ties],” South­gate said.

At the same time, qual­i­fi­ca­tion has be­come eas­ier with Eng­land in a group with Kosovo, Bul­garia, the Czech Repub­lic and Mon­tene­gro.

“It’s al­ways dan­ger­ous to com­ment when we have a game [against Kosovo] that is a po­ten­tial to drop points if we’re not right,” South­gate said, adding that he wanted to take Eng­land’s first meet­ing with Kosovo – who are un­de­feated in 15 matches – “out of the equa­tion” with his ar­gu­ment.

He added: “But, I think if I look across Europe in gen­eral, you’d have to say there isn’t enough jeop­ardy in the qual­i­fi­ca­tion process to make all of the groups as ex­cit­ing as they could be. We saw the dif­fer­ence that the Na­tions League presented in terms of ex­cite­ment for fans and the thrill of that.

“When I was play­ing you had to win your group, and I think Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships were only 16 teams so that makes a dif­fer­ence in it­self. The first World Cup qual­i­fy­ing I was in­volved in, Italy were in our group and you had to win the group.

“Then there was a play-off for some of the bet­ter-placed teams. So, I think the big thing is the num­ber of teams that get to the fi­nals … I would ques­tion whether it’s the right thing.”

South­gate said he was not against the idea of the low­est-ranked na­tions hav­ing to go through ‘pre­qual­i­fy­ing” and play each other as ef­fec­tively hap­pened in the Na­tions League.

He also said it was bet­ter to have shorter qual­i­fy­ing cam­paigns.

“When a lot of the teams lower down are play­ing big op­po­si­tion, they end up sit­ting like Bul­garia did [against Eng­land] and like Gi­bral­tar did when they played Ire­land, re­ally deep, and they never get to attack and they never get to de­velop the other side of their game,” he said.

Eng­land v Kosovo St Mary’s, 7.45pm, ITV1

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