Gareth Southgate explains why England’s World Cup chances could already be over

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Gareth Southgate fears his England stars could be burnt out before the World Cup has even started.

Southgate his seen his Three Lions limp towards the end of a long and punishing season on the back of Covid, with three lacklustre performances in the Nations League.

England have failed to win and scored just one goal to find themselves bottom of their group heading into tomorrow's (Tue) clash with Hungary at Molineux. The season cannot end soon enough for Southgate's men – but most of them will be back in pre-season training with their clubs within three weeks before heading on summer tours.

The new season will start in August and following two more Nations League games in September, those who make Southgate's World Cup squad will head to Qatar in November straight after a weekend of Premier League games. Southgate admits the demands on players is now massive and that the football calendar is leaving them wiped out.

He said: "The demands on the players are huge, and I think we are all conscious that we can't keep adding to the calendar. We are still paying the price of Covid, really, in that we've had three games in international windows, four games now, partly due to the timing of the World Cup. We lose the October camp so everything's condensed and competitions are added, but nothing is taken out. In the end I am sure players are gaining more of a voice in that and understandably so, and they should have a voice."

Southgate admits he will even be kept in the dark by clubs when it comes to the fitness of his stars just days before jetting to Qatar. He added: "Control (over information on them)? None. We get the performance data from the Premier League, so you've got some markers. But equally there's always an understanding that clubs that have big games might not want to share certain things too early if they've got players that might miss games. In general we have decent relationships with the clubs on that stuff, but there's always going to be a bit of an element of the unknown in that period."

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Meanwhile, Harry Maguire has backed Southgate despite a bit of criticism which has come the way of the Three Lions boss. Manchester United captain Maguire said: “I think he’s brought top-level football back to the country. And I know when you start winning things and getting close, the expectations become higher and higher. But he’s brought that expectation back to what it was years ago. It’s been years since we were competitive in these top games.

“We’ve reached a World Cup semi-final when no-one thought we had a chance of going anywhere, the Euros final which was obviously a huge occasion under the biggest amount of pressure. I think his record speaks for itself. I don’t need to speak too much about Gareth in terms of what he’s done for this country. But of course, the more you win football matches, the higher the expectation comes.

“And then when you don’t win one in three games, then obviously there’s gonna be scrutiny. But I’m sure we can cope with that and one thing I say is get behind us like they have done. The fans have always been brilliant, so get behind us like they do every tournament. It’s gonna be an exciting tournament and one that we need to make sure that we’re ready for.”

  • England Football Team
  • Gareth Southgate
  • Harry Maguire
  • World Cup

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