Gareth Southgate pleased despite England’s defeat to Brazil

By Sports Desk March 23, 2024

Gareth Southgate was pleased by England’s display in the defeat to Brazil and praised his trio of debutants as he experimented ahead of Euro 2024.

Saturday’s Wembley clash between these injury-hit sides ended in the hosts’ first defeat since their World Cup quarter-final exit to France 15 months ago.

England had hoped to start the international year with a bang but stumbled as teenage star Endrick came off the bench to secure Brazil a late 1-0 win.

The 17-year-old became the youngest man to score a senior international goal at Wembley, where Southgate was largely happy despite his side’s 10-match unbeaten run coming to an end.

“I was pleased,” the England manager said. “Clearly don’t like losing football matches, but I thought there were lots of very good individual performances from players who’ve hardly played for England.

“I thought our more regular players were very good.

“You know, with 15 minutes to go we’re thinking ‘we’ve managed to see a lot of new players, we’ve had more than our share of the game, we’ve had as many attempts on goal as they have’.

“The difference in the end was one moment, really, and that is the ruthlessness of football at this level.”

Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon made a promising first start and Ezri Konsa came on in the 20th minute following an injury to stand-in skipper Kyle Walker.

The Aston Villa defender filled in at right-back and Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, 18, came off the bench 15 minutes from time.

“I thought Anthony was very good,” the England boss said. “Both sides of his game looked very accomplished.

“Ezri, to come in at the moment he did and to deal with a player of that quality (Vinicius Jr), I thought he was also excellent, showed real composure and he should be really happy with his debut. We were really pleased with him.

“Kobbie was a chance to dip his toes. We needed to refresh some of the team because we’ve got to manage their minutes a little bit, so that’s a strange situation when it’s a game of that size but that’s where we are.

“To get Kobbie on the pitch was a brilliant moment for him and his family. You saw a couple of turns and a couple of really composed moments that is a bit of an indication of what he might become.”

Southgate was waiting to find out the severity of the issue that forced Walker off in the first half, saying the right-back was unsure “whether it’s just tightness”.

But the England boss suspects “it’s a little bit more than that”, meaning he would miss Tuesday’s friendly against Belgium.

Southgate expects to have Cole Palmer and Jordan Henderson available for that game but confirmed captain Harry Kane will not feature due to an ankle injury.

“Yeah, he’ll go back,” he said. “He won’t he won’t be fit for Tuesday.

“(Henderson and Palmer) trained today so they’ve come through that OK.

“They should join the group that will train tomorrow and we’ll go from there with that.”

With Kane out and Ollie Watkins having the chance to lead the line against Brazil, the Belgium friendly surely provides a chance to start Ivan Toney.

The one-cap striker was an unused substitute on a rare night when England failed to find the net.

“We are playing a top team so chances are going to be limited,” Southgate said.

“Perhaps we had the chances from set-plays to capitalise on one of them that often makes the difference in those tight games.

“But I was really pleased with the players that went in. We need to find out about them, we need to know where we might head if we didn’t have Harry for a big match.

“I thought Ollie did a good job, didn’t get that clear chance on goal that you might want as a forward but a lot of his work was very, very good.”

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