Fans have been left baffled by a new decision explained by Gareth Southgate for the upcoming friendlies against Austria and Romania.
The England manager has named the 26 players he hopes will end the nation’s wait for a major trophy that goes back to the 1966 World Cup.
Southgate has since explained why he plans to start Jesse Lingard in Wednesday night’s game at the Riverside Stadium, despite being left out of their Euro 2020 squad.
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The 28-year-old has enjoyed a great campaign at West Ham under David Moyes, impressing many and will no doubt be gutted at not making the cut.
After joining on loan from Man Utd in January, a rejuvenated Lingard has netted nine goals in 16 games for the Hammers, notching five assists, helping them secure European football after a 6th place finish in the Premier League.
He also featured in three World Cup qualifiers back in March against San Marino, Albania and Poland after earning praise from the Three Lions boss.
However despite his impressive club form in recent months, Lingard was left out of England’s 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championships after being named in the initial 33-man provisional squad.
Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Mason Mount have all been selected ahead of him in midfield, though the 28-year-old is penned down to start the friendly against Austria.
What some people may not know is, England’s squad can be changed before the first group stage game against Croatia on the 13th of June, so Lingard still has a chance to make an impression ahead of the tournament.
Because Jadon Sancho is on the sidelines, this friendly against Austria could be the perfect stage to prove his manager wrong.
“He [Lingard] will play tomorrow because we’ve got Sancho ill and a lot of players not available and, for the balance of the team, he will start. He deserves that opportunity to go and show me that I’m wrong,” Southgate said.
“The lads that are with us are the standby list and we need to keep them match-ready.
“Everybody wants to play and that can affect our decision making in these two matches and the training sessions in the lead-up.
“We have got a very good idea of what we want to do, but that’s always got to be open to change – and that’s the opportunity the players have in the next two games.”
“He deserves the opportunity to show me that I’m wrong.”
Gareth Southgate says Jesse Lingard is unfortunate to miss out on selection for his 26-man squad for Euro 2020 and the midfielder will start for England in their friendly against Austria on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/aX7NxaF6GL
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 1, 2021
Southgate continued, saying: “Jesse has done incredibly well to get back in the race. Going back to January, he was a million miles from being selectable for an England squad.
“I said in March that he had a fabulous few weeks, but you’d have to say he was a little fortunate because we were without four wide players at that time.
“He had a good spell with West Ham and is a player that has played so well for England. We have total trust in the way he plays: he’s reliable and a great member of the group.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate says failing to reach the semi-finals at Euro 2020 will be classed as a failure.
The national football team reached the last four of the 2018 World Cup and a run to the final would see them play all but one of their games at Wembley.
After being asked if anything less than reaching the semi-finals would be deemed a failure, Southgate replied: “Yeah, it probably will.
“I think we’re realistic about that, we have to live with that expectation.”
He added: “Are we ready to win? Well, we’ve been to two semi-finals so the next step is to try to go further.”
They also reached the same stage of the Nations League a year later.
“We know the excitement around the team and it’s great, we’re now relevant,” added Southgate.
As mentioned, fans were baffled by the new Gareth Southgate decision for upcoming friendlies, see what was tweeted below…
@c6ear: If you aren’t picked for the Euro’s – why would you want to play in the friendly? Surely just kickstart your holidays and rest?
@Joe_O90: Why are we starting players in a pre tournament Friendly that haven’t made the final squad? 😂
@bjturrner: And if he scores 6 goals he won’t be in the squad so what’s the point
@_JackLewis: And what will Gareth do with this information if he does prove him wrong? Change the squad again?
@itsMINIM4N: Surely pick the team that needs to gel and improve tactically…. ZERO sense
@JJLFC_: Surely the point of the friendlies is to prepare for the upcoming tournament not to give players a consolation game?
@milehighgeordie: This makes ZERO sense. If he’s not in the squad, surely you play those who need time on the pitch together? What will it do if he comes out and plays the game of his life? This is the type of thing you say to help with someones feelings vs what’s best for the team
@YahYah_Gunn: Deserves sacking for this decision alone.
@Bal_Tastic: Southgate “I’ll pick players on form”. Reality = picks Sterling ahead of Lingard & Watkins!
@TedJoyce_: What’s the point of starting a player in a friendly that won’t be playing in the tournament? I wouldn’t have Lingard in the squad but this is silly regardless
@Markdolling: Absolutely and completely pointless, unless he’s expecting an immediate midfield withdrawal through injury.
@APS2114: Well that’s the most pointless thing I’ve ever heard
@ellireds2: Absolute travesty lingard isnt in the squad. If I was him I know where I’d tell gareth to stick the Austria game
@Real_Dan_Horton: This makes absolutely zero sense and is a bit of a piss take
@FPL_Partridge: “Congratulations Jesse, you really proved me wrong. It’s quite obvious now that you should be in the squad. Anyway, enjoy your summer, see you next season.”
@SiEd67: What’s the bloody point!!!
@PaulStewart1988: Not in the squad but play in the friendly. I would be like sorry I’m going on holiday and then prepare for pre season
@Regularhero: Southgate always said he would pick on form and not clubs but has bottled this, you could argue that Lingard is in the form of his life for West Ham and we are taking injured players. Good yes but fit? Lingard playing tomorrow is poor man management.
@Turns88: Nothing good can come of this 🤦♂️
@Richardsims1980: Why play players who are not in the euro squad , surely this game should be used to get the squad playing together
@charliebeau1: Bloody stupid decision to play him after leaving him out 🤦♂️
@kat_lfc13: I’m failing to see what this will achieve. The squad is submitted, he can’t change his mind even if he scores 10 goals. Play the players who are actually going to prepare them for the tournament. There are more than enough available to field an XI.
@DeeMarchUK: JL has to go the euros. Major oversight from GS
Can hear this
— Tom (@leech_tom) June 1, 2021