‘We are representing England… caps have to be earned’: Gareth Southgate insists he won’t rest stars for June qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia despite pressure from clubs
- Gareth Southgate will not rest players against Malta and North Macedonia
- The likes of Harry Kane and Jack Grealish will have just finished a busy season
- Southgate says England wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise wellbeing of players
Gareth Southgate will resist pressure from Premier League clubs and pick his strongest squad for his side’s June qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.
England are on course to reach Euro 2024 after beating Italy and Ukraine and it is widely anticipated that they will have 12 points from 12 once they have travelled to Malta on June 16 and hosted North Macedonia three days later.
Many top-flight clubs return to training in the first week of July, meaning another disrupted summer for players, and it was put to Southgate that these fixtures are a chance to give some of his stars a rare rest.
Harry Kane, for instance, has played almost 4,400 minutes since June for club and country. If Manchester City reach the FA Cup and Champions League finals, Jack Grealish could play in 65 matches in the space of a year.
But Southgate is adamant he must pick his best players and insists England would not do anything to jeopardise their wellbeing.
Gareth Southgate won’t rest players for England’s games against Malta and North Macedonia
Tottenham’s Harry Kane has played almost 4,400 minutes since June for club and country
‘We are representing England,’ said Southgate. ‘Caps have to be earned. Harry Kane won’t want to miss England matches, I’ll tell you that now. There’s physical freshness and psychological freshness, and I think psychological is key.’
The Premier League campaign ends on May 28 with the FA Cup final on June 3. The Champions League final is on June 10, when England players will likely report for duty at St George’s Park.
Manchester City star Jack Grealish could feature in 65 matches in the space of a year
Southgate says it would send out the wrong message if England didn’t select certain players
‘If we don’t select certain players it sends the wrong message to the group,’ said Southgate. ‘What’s to stop others pulling out? You could end up with a shambles. As you saw this week, if you lose one or two players with injury in the week then very quickly you are short.
‘This time we would have had the opportunity to bring in the Under 21s if needed but what if it’s the summer, when the Under 21s have a tournament?’