Sport Jamie Carragher 'fears' for Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2020
Southgate opens up on what he had to do to 'survive' in football
EXCLUSIVE: The Three Lions boss has long championed the importance of mental health support for footballers and has nurtured an environment of openness in the camp.The Three Lions boss has long championed the importance of mental health support for footballers and has nurtured an environment of openness in which players feel comfortable around the national camp.
Jamie Carragher has handed England a reality check on the cusp of Euro 2020 by suggesting the nation's expectations of reaching the semi-finals are 'lofty'.
Carragher, who won 38 England caps in his international career, has sounded the alarm over England's current centre backs, the team's lack of preparation and a lack of quality compared to the likes of tournament giants France and Portugal.
England kick off theircampaign on Sunday when they face Croatia in their opening group game at Wembley but Carragher fears England fans will be left feeling deflated by their 'failure' to win the tournament.
England to unleash wave of young talent during Euro 2020 mission
IAN LADYMAN: In the end 33 players became 26 without too much fuss. Turning that 26 into a perfect XI in time for Sunday week will be more of a challenge. A year ago, Gareth Southgate knew roughly half of his ideal starting XI for the first game of European Championship and so did the rest of us. The England manager knew ‘part of the batting order’, as he once put it.Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford. In Southgate’s mind, they were all in. That was to be the backbone of the summer of 2021.
Writing in, Carragher shared his thoughts on the expectation surrounding Southgate's England squad this summer.
He said: 'England's participation in major international tournaments tends to follow the same pattern. Anticipation, over-expectation, disillusionment and recrimination. Usually, this is caused by the misguided belief the national team is ready to win the World Cup or European Championship.
'Making the last four of the European Championship will require an outstanding performance, so the nation would be wise to remind itself of England's current standing and the challenge ahead before over-optimism takes hold. I fear for him [Southgate] and his team if anything less will be considered a poor return.'
England to practice three at the back ahead of Euro 2020 opener
Having recently switched to a back four, Southgate will look at going back to the tried and tested 3-4-3 in training ahead of next Sunday's Euros opener against Croatia at Wembley.Having recently switched to a back four, Southgate will look at going back to the tried and tested 3-4-3 — which helped England to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 — in training ahead of next Sunday’s Euros opener against Croatia.
Carragher also highlighted the effect the pandemic has had on England's preparation heading into the tournament.
The former Liverpool player said 'no one has suffered as much as England' when it comes to the knock-on effect of the pandemic to the football calendar.
Seven of England's starting XI played in the Champions League final, while two featured for Manchester United in their Europa League final defeat.
Video: Premier League: How has the season unfolded? (Mirror)
Many of those players are key men for England, including Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.
Kane set to be rested for Romania game
The England captain is being treated with kid gloves ahead of the Euros given his litany of ankle injuries and he did not even train with the rest of the squad on Friday. Manager Gareth Southgate is already lumbered with the headache of sweating on Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson's respective fitness, and he said Kane, who played in England's 1-0 win over Austria, is preparing for the tournament ahead.
As a result, Carragher believes England's warm-up games against Austria and Romania were a 'waste of time' because Southgate was forced to rest pivotal players to prevent injuries ahead of the tournament.
He said: 'England's warm-up games were a waste of time, Southgate in the unprecedented position of being unable to select a line-up resembling that which will kick off the tournament. The inability to fine-tune is a serious issue heading into Sunday's game, adding to the injuries affecting two of his most senior players and leaders, Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson.'
With Maguire's fitness still a problem, Carragher worries England will be exposed at the back.
He claims Southgate's squad is lacking a centre-back of the calibre of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
He said: 'Southgate will look at the balance of his squad and lament not having centre-backs of the calibre of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. In Maguire's absence he is relying on back-up defenders whose teams finished 11th, 13th and 16th in the Premier League last season. That means he is heading into the competition mulling over an experimental backline.'
Despite this, Carragher insists he is not trying to 'deliberately be pessimistic or downbeat' and that he is just formulating an opinion based off 'the background in which this tournament is being played, the strength of the main contenders and likely opponents during the knockout stage'.
Southgate admits it would be a 'bonus' if Maguire is fit for Euros .
Maguire is yet to return to full training and Southgate acknowledged there is a chance the centre back may not be fit enough to play any part in the tournament this summer. © Provided by Daily Mail ( © Provided by Daily Mail ( 'With any injury, it's impossible to predict 100 per cent,' Southgate said ahead of England's final warm-up game with Romania. Video: Harry Maguire faces ‘tight’ race for Euro 2020 opener (Mirror) Your browser does not support this video 'Our medical team are pleased with his progress, and particularly over the last couple of days.