Fabio Capello claimed former side England have a "monkey on their back and then fail" when it comes to finals.

Gareth Southgate's men reached their first major final in 55 years at Euro 2020, but lost on penalties as Italy claimed their first European Championship since 1968.

England have enjoyed relative success in September's World Cup qualifiers, crushing Hungary and Andorra 4-0 before conceding a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Poland.

In the latter game, Southgate opted to not make any substitutions – the first time the Three Lions have done so since the Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

And Capello believes there is a reason for the England manager's lack of substitutes in Warsaw after heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final two months ago.

"If [Southgate] doesn't make subs it means he wants this group to be convinced to be strong, as the results proved," Capello, who managed England for five years until 2012, told reporters.

"Bear in mind, they have just botched half a match versus Italy in the final, when they were overwhelmed by fear and stopped playing.

"I know England and their problems. They have that monkey on their back to get to the final and then they fail."

England are unbeaten in their last 16 international matches (W13 D3) – their longest streak without defeat since a 16-game run between September 1995 and November 1996.

While international teams pursue qualification for Qatar 2022, FIFA's chief of global football development, Arsene Wenger, is pushing a biennial plan for future World Cups.

The former Arsenal manager's proposition, which was put to FIFA in May, would see global football's most important tournament switch to a two-year cycle.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin greeted the suggestions with disdain, but Capello revealed he would support the proposed changes as a player.

"As a player, I would like the World Cup to be played every two years," the 75-year-old Italian continued.

"Four years is a long time and sometimes you are at the top of your game but when the World Cup comes you are not and you have no chance to shine.

"At the same time, waiting four years makes that trophy more coveted and important, it is bigger.

"Every two years, this value would decrease but again, as a player, I played the World Cup just once, and the second time I missed it for the width of a hair, so I would [play every two years]."

England manager Gareth Southgate defended his lack of substitutions in the team's 1-1 draw away to Poland in World Cup qualifying.

Southgate did not make a change as England's winning start to World Cup qualifying ended after Damian Szymanski nodded home a dramatic first Poland goal on Wednesday.

Szymanski's 92nd-minute equaliser cancelled out Harry Kane's second-half opener in Warsaw, though England remain top of Group I on the road to Qatar 2022.

It was the first time England did not make a sub since the Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

Afterwards, Southgate was asked about his decision not to introduce fresh faces midweek.

"We were in total control of the game and to bring players into that moment when everybody was performing to a good level, and we were in control of possession," Southgate told reporters.

"You can put players into the game who have had to sit in the stands and it's not so easy to come on in those latter stages, so there are a couple of times where we looked at it and said now that we're doing well, no, no problem.

"We're going to refresh the wide players right at the end, but really, that would have been to run the clock down as much as anything. But before we could get them in, we've conceded the goal and once we've conceded the goal, again, we didn't think that was a good moment to make a change, so that was that was why we did it."

For only the second time in their last 18 major tournament qualifying matches, England failed to register victory, also failing in October 2019 against the Czech Republic.

England have not lost any of their last 18 matches against Poland (W11 D7), a run that stretches back to October 1973.

Southgate's England, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last 16 international matches (W13 D3) – their longest streak without defeat since a 16-game run between September 1995 and November 1996.

"We knew that today if we could win the game then we were pretty much in Qatar," Southgate said. "That isn't the case we've still got some work to do.

"We could have been in an even stronger position, so that is a disappointment, but I can't fault what the players have given over that period and the way they've responded to the summer."

Harry Kane described Poland's late equaliser as "a kick in the teeth" after England's winning run in World Cup qualifying was ended on Wednesday.

Gareth Southgate's side took the lead through Kane's stunner in Warsaw, but were pegged back by Damian Szymanski's header from Robert Lewandowski's cross.

The Three Lions still sit top in Group J, five points clear of Albania and six clear of Poland in the hunt for a spot at Qatar 2022.

"A kick in the teeth at the end there, it's never easy conceding in the last minute," Kane told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It was a good performance from the boys though, we controlled the game well.

"Of course [there was an 'edgy' atmosphere], we're playing for the opportunity to play in the World Cup. Poland clearly saw this as their last opportunity to take some points off us and get closer to us in the group.

"I thought we handled it well. The Hungary game and this game away from home were not easy to play in. The boys stepped up and put in good performances."

Kane also believed his goal - a superb effort from around 25 yards out - was one of the best he has netted in his international career, as he moved onto 41 England strikes (only four players have scored more).

"That's probably one of the best goals, probably the furthest out I've scored for England," added Kane, who has now netted in 15 consecutive such games across the World Cup and European Championship, tallying 19 goals.

"I caught it really nicely, it wobbled in the air and caught the keeper off guard. It was a nice one to get because it's a tough place to play and it broke the deadlock, putting us in a good position. Hopefully I can continue that going into the next camp."

A fracas broke out between the teams at half-time, with Kane explaining England's players had reported an incident to the Football Association.

"There was an incident just before half-time which has been reported to the FA guys," he said. "They're taking care of it and investigating it and we'll go from there.

"Allegedly it was something that was done, not said. We haven't had a chance to look at the footage and talk to the lad."

Southgate, meanwhile, was satisfied with England's performance in what he labelled the most difficult game of their qualification campaign.

"It was no surprise that this was the hardest game in the group. Early in the game, we were a little slow to move the ball and Poland pressed us well," he told 5 Live.

"In the second half we controlled the game. If there's a criticism it's that we didn't create enough clear chances from that possession and we didn't get enough players in the box.

"While it's 1-0 you run the risk of what happened at the end. We're clearly disappointed not to get the three points but I have to look at what the players have done across these three matches.

"Given that there was no way of telling how they would react after what happened in the [Euro 2020] final, I think their mentality and application has been really good."

Gareth Southgate insists England will be prepared for another hostile atmosphere when they travel to Warsaw to face Poland.

England have enjoyed a productive international break thus far, coasting past Hungary and Andorra by an aggregate score of 8-0 to make it five wins in five games.

Last Thursday in Budapest, England players were subjected to racist abuse by the crowd, Raheem Sterling being the main target as he celebrated his opener.

Southgate expects a tough test on Wednesday, with five of the last seven games on Polish soil finishing as a draw between these two sides.

"We have to approach the game as we did the other night," said the England boss.

"We know keeping possession of the ball can be a big factor in managing those situations.

"But the flow of the game will be different and we are playing a level of opponent who I think is in a better moment.

"They have won their last two games and have good footballers in the team who will keep the ball a little bit better than Hungary were able to against us.

"Then there is a balance of not inflaming situations and giving a home crowd something to live off and get behind the team more.

"That's the balance and experience. I'm sure our players will manage that no problem."

 

Poland have failed to beat the Three Lions in their last 17 attempts and Southgate appreciates the visitors can take control of their World Cup qualification destiny.

"It's a big opportunity for us, we can take a really positive step to the World Cup if we win in Warsaw," he continued.

"There's a high level of motivation, but we're also guarding against any feeling that we're better than we are.

"The team is playing well and we have a squad, any of whom are more than comfortable coming into the side and playing well when they come into the team.

"But those moments can be dangerous if we get any sense of complacency, then we're going into a game where we can be really challenged."

Trent Alexander-Arnold conceded he struggled in the midfield experiment with England against Andorra on Sunday.

The Liverpool star has been a key asset for Jurgen Klopp at right-back, who allows Alexander-Arnold and left-back Andrew Robertson licence to attack.

However, with Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker offering Gareth Southgate a wealth of depth at right-back, England opted to move Alexander-Arnold, who has registered 40 assists in all competitions since the start of 2018-19.

The 22-year-old recorded an 81 per cent passing accuracy in the first half, which increased to 87.1 per cent at the end of the game after a second-half change back to the right flank.

He also produced a game-high six crosses and two key passes – only bettered by Jude Bellingham (three) – but was uneasy when asked to reflect on his performance.

"It's a new role for me, a bit different, I think there's been a lot of questions being asked whether I can or cannot play in there and a lot of opinions being voiced over the last few weeks," Alexander-Arnold said to talkSPORT.

"It was an experiment the manager wanted to try out, but it was difficult to get on the ball for me, I found it a lot more difficult to get on the ball in those spaces.

"But whether I'm starting in there or starting [at] right-back I think naturally I just find myself drifting into midfield, getting the ball and affecting the game."

 

Since his debut in October 2016, Alexander-Arnold has created two chances per 90 minutes across all competitions for Liverpool.

Given he also averages 76.95 passing accuracy in that time frame, his self-assessment of the performance against Andorra perhaps seems harsh.

Those numbers increase minimally to 2.45 chances created per 90 minutes and 77.58 accuracy since his standout season in 2019-20 but the Liverpool academy graduate remained frank in his opinions of his first international midfield outing.

"The only difference was I was starting in there [in midfield] and it was a bit more difficult to really find the space that I wanted to," he continued.

"The second half we changed the system a little bit and I was able to find a lot more space and get time on the ball and get in positions that were fairly similar to playing in midfield anyway."

England cannot just focus on Robert Lewandowski in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Poland, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has warned his players.

Lewandowski scored three times across Poland's victories over Albania and San Marino last week to make it 72 goals for his country in 124 caps.

Picking up from where he left off in 2020-21, when setting a new record for the most goals ever scored in a single Bundesliga campaign (41), the prolific striker has been in fine form this term.

He has scored in all six matches he has played for club and country, and netted 10 times in total to strengthen his status as arguably the finest striker on the planet.

The Bayern Munich man was injured when Poland lost 2-1 at Wembley in March but is fit and firing for this latest encounter between Group I's top two teams.

But while acknowledging Lewandowski's quality in front of goal, Southgate insists there is more to Poland than just one player, as Paulo Sousa's men showed in the reverse fixture six months ago.

"They played at Wembley without him and they gave a very good account of themselves," he said.

"We only scored really late on in the game to win it, so of course it's no different if we didn't have Harry Kane or Raheem [Sterling], then they would be a big loss to us.

"The very top players for any team in the world are a loss if you don’t have them and every coach will feel the same way.

"But when we're preparing the team to play against Poland, we're not just looking at Lewandowski.

"We absolutely respect what he brings and we know what a threat he is, but they've got some other very dangerous players as well."

 

Lewandowski's run of goals includes scoring in 13 successive Bundesliga matches stretching back into last season – only the late Gerd Muller (16 in 1969-70) found the net in more consecutive league games.

The 33-year-old surpassed 300 goals for Bayern with his recent hat-trick against Hertha Berlin, reaching 301 in just his 333rd appearance for the German giants. 

Again, that is a haul only bettered by Muller (566 goals in 607 matches) in Die Roten's history.

Lewandowski's goals in September's qualifiers have helped Poland to two wins from as many games, but they remain five points adrift of group leaders England at the midway point.

England have yet to drop any points and will be as good as assured of a place at Qatar 2022 should they extend that winning run in Warsaw this week.

"Clearly with Hungary's last result [losing 1-0 to Albania], Poland look like being the nearest challengers, which we probably thought when this group was drawn," Southgate said.

"It's a great incentive for us now. If we can go to Warsaw and win then we really are in control of the group."

Jesse Lingard described his celebration for England against Andorra as "a little welcoming gift" for new Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lingard starred for the Three Lions on Sunday, scoring twice and setting up Bukayo Saka for a late header as Gareth Southgate's men ran out 4-0 winners at Wembley in World Cup qualifying.

It ended a long wait for the United midfielder to score for his country, his last goals coming 1,022 days ago against Croatia in November 2018.

Lingard marked his first by mimicking the famous celebration of Ronaldo, who rejoined United from Juventus and could make his first appearance for the club in 12 years against Newcastle United on September 11.

"Me and Mason [Mount] were thinking about celebrations this week and obviously, we mixed my celebration with Cristiano's and I said I'd do it if I scored," Lingard explained to beIN SPORTS.

"It's a little welcoming gift for him. He'll settle in very quickly and it will help the team tremendously this season."

Ronaldo's arrival has threatened to limit Lingard's game time at United even further. Although the Red Devils resisted attempts from interested clubs to prise Lingard away in the transfer window, the 28-year-old has only played four minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

England boss Gareth Southgate believes Lingard will rise to the challenge of competing for game time alongside the formidable forward talent at United's disposal.

"It wasn't long ago that the numbers of English players in the league was low and we would have to pick players that weren't regulars in their team or on loan. We picked Mason from the Championship so we have had to be creative," he said.

"We know Jesse has a challenge and he knows he has a big challenge with the quality of attacking players at United. But they've also got a lot of matches in different competitions so hopefully, he can take that challenge on and he will take that challenge on.

"He has rebounded brilliantly in the last 12 months from a difficult period and he has shown today that he has got quality. It is not necessarily the quality of the opponent but it is performing with the quality of players that we have and stand out. That shows his level of quality.

"He has really good intelligence and works hard without the ball and presses well. Today, I thought he was the brightest spark, particularly in the first half as it was the type of game where those players who can manipulate the ball between the lines would shine more than others."

Gareth Southgate revealed his England stars are fed up of racism controversies overshadowing their strong performances – but vowed they would not back down.

England are on a high after reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, the same stage in the Nations League, and then marching to the Euro 2020 final.

It should be a time when their achievements are being splashed across coverage of the team.

Yet the disgusting treatment that England's black players have frequently received at away games has meant the team's positive results have been accompanied by reporting of the problems they have encountered, often overshadowing on-field success.

FIFA has launched an investigation and opened disciplinary proceedings against the Hungarian FA after England players were targeted as Southgate's team won 4-0 in Budapest on Thursday.

England should be on safe ground in such regard when they face Andorra in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday, which will come as a relief to the head coach, who says progress in banishing the bigots has been "very slow".

Asked about how well Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham had handled the abuse in Hungary, Southgate said: "I don't know how many camps we've had in the past four years, but I seem to have been talking about this subject almost every time we've been together. I can only reiterate our players are incredibly mature the way they deal with it.

"They feel supported by their team-mates, which is very important to them, and their team-mates recognise how challenging it must be for our black players and how disappointing it is in the modern world that we continue to have to answer these questions because of the incidents that happen.

"But we can only keep taking the stance that we have done and hope we continue to send the right messages, not only to people in football but across society, and that everybody keeps progressing.

 

"We know it's going to take time and we know it feels very slow for everybody, but we have to keep fighting that battle.

"There's a balance there that the lads want to get on with their football, and as much as it's important we talk about this publicly, they don't necessarily want it to be uppermost in the conversation.

"They want their performances on the pitch to be recognised, and when you've played as our lads did the other night, they want to be talking about how well they've played and that is the thing that they're here to do.

"They recognise their wider responsibilities and at the right moments they want to affect those things, but when they're playing they want to be judged on their play."

England have won all four of their previous matches against Andorra by an aggregate score of 16-0, with this their first match against them since a 6-0 home win under Fabio Capello in June 2009.

A typically comfortable England win can reasonably be expected for their latest meeting, with Andorra having lost 55 of their 57 away qualifying matches for the World Cup and European Championship, drawing against Macedonia in 2005 and against Albania in 2019 in the two games where they have avoided defeat.

Andorra did manage a 2-0 victory over San Marino on Thursday, however, while England were solidifying their status as Group I front-runners in Hungary.

Southgate confirmed Wolves defender Conor Coady would start against Andorra but declined to offer any further morsels about the make-up of his team.

Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford could make his England debut, and Southgate urged him to make the most of any opportunity he gets.

"It's a special moment for him and his family," said the England boss. "We want him to do what he does every week with his club. I think he's got a really clear picture of how we like to play.

"We just want him to go and enjoy his football. We know what he's capable of and we're looking forward to seeing him play."

England's big win in Hungary was even more remarkable because of the racist abuse directed at their players, according to Kick It Out head of development Troy Townsend.

A 4-0 World Cup qualifying success on Thursday was overshadowed by reports of monkey chanting in Budapest.

On Friday, Townsend hailed Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate and the "support system" around 18-year-old Jude Bellingham, one of the apparent victims. Bellingham said on Twitter the abuse was "part of the game and always will be until proper punishments are put in place by those with the power".

This sort of response has prompted widespread praise as England players have time and again taken a stand against discrimination. FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Hungary, after receiving official reports of events at the Puskas Arena.

Townsend suggested racist chanting was "what we've come to expect" and the team would have thought likewise heading into Thursday's match, but he was again enthused by the players' reactions.

Raheem Sterling was surrounded by his team-mates as he celebrated the opening goal with a tribute to his late friend Steffie Gregg.

Objects were thrown at Sterling by a number of Hungary supporters, but England players including Declan Rice and Jack Grealish appeared to mock their actions by drinking from cups that landed at pitchside.

"In general, they dealt with it with class," Townsend told Stats Perform.

"Every goal, there's more meaning to it, isn't there? You see the ball go in the back of the net and you think, 'I'm disappointed with four'. I'm like, 'Oh, go and get five, go and get six'.

 

"But those players, I can't say this enough now about players who have been victimised and the support that they have of their team-mates.

"I would imagine that there will be certain elements of that squad last night that were expecting it.

"And when they targeted Raheem, who lost a close friend and that's what the inscription on his T-shirt was about, to his close friend... he's in a moment where he's paying homage to a friend, while having cups thrown at him and potentially hearing the monkey chants as well, this is what I mean about that mindset of our professionals.

"Now, they've got such a strong and positive mindset that they won't let those situations affect them.

"They know what they've got to do on the football pitch. They know what they want to achieve. And by the way, they know they're bloody good, and they're better than the opposition.

"So, actually, it makes them more determined, more steely to go and do it again, and go and do it again and go and do it again.

"And I would imagine that they would have walked off with a smile on their face while also going, 'Did you hear that? Did you hear that?'."

Gareth Southgate again praised his England players for their opposition to racism amid allegations they were abused during Thursday's 4-0 win in Hungary.

England secured a superb victory in Budapest, moving five points clear at the top of Group I in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice helped the Three Lions move on swiftly from their Euro 2020 final heartbreak.

But this latest triumph was marred by the actions of Hungary supporters as their side suffered their heaviest defeat in 118 home World Cup qualifiers.

Objects were thrown at Sterling and his team-mates as they celebrated, while there were also reports of chants aimed at the Manchester City forward.

Southgate, like several of his players, said he had not heard the abuse, although England's decision to take the knee at kick-off was widely jeered.

He added: "It sounds like there have been some incidents and everybody knows what we stand for as a team and that that's completely unacceptable."

A Football Association spokesperson said: "It is extremely disappointing to hear reports of discriminatory actions towards some of our England players.

"We will be asking FIFA to investigate the matter.

"We continue to support the players and staff in our collective determination to highlight and tackle discrimination in all its forms."

Southgate's England have repeatedly taken a stand against racism, although the manager has been keen to highlight the negative responses to these demonstrations from a section of their own support.

"It's still taking us a long, long time to get to where we want to get to, and inevitably if other countries don't have the same level of diversity, it's probably not been in their thinking in the same way it has in our country," he explained.

"We will continue to do what we do. We will continue to set the right example for people in our own country, who will be more influenced by us than perhaps people will be elsewhere."

Little of Southgate's post-match news conference focused on the game – a 25th World Cup qualifier in succession without defeat – but he praised his players throughout.

"I don't think our players can do any more than they have done in the last two or three years in getting the right messages in, making the right stands," he said.

"It's for other people to protect them. It's for me to protect them in the main, but for authorities to protect them as well. They shouldn't have to be subjected to any form of racism."

The Three Lions boss added: "[The players] recognise that the world is changing and, although some people are stuck in their ways of thinking and their prejudices, they're going to be the dinosaurs in the end, because the world is modernising."

He finished his media duties saying: "I'm always conscious that whenever I speak about this, I don't know if I get exactly the right tone or the right words – I never want to be dismissive of it.

"Our intentions are good and we hope that people understand that and respect that."

England's tactics are similar to those of Liverpool and European champions Chelsea, so says Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions reached the final of Euro 2020, only to lose on penalties to Italy after a 1-1 draw at Wembley after extra time.

With a squad packed with attacking talent at his disposal, Southgate often faced clamour to find a way to fit as many of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden into his starting XI as possible.

While all those players played their part, Southgate started every game with a holding pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in midfield, with England lining up in a back three in the final itself.

England, who had the tightest defence at Euro 2020, conceding just two goals, were outshot by 19 to six in that match, with Luke Shaw's early goal their only attempt until Harry Kane headed over in the 58th minute.

Southgate's team are back in action on Thursday, facing Hungary in World Cup Qualifying Group I - England sit top with nine points from their three games so far.

Asked once again if he feels he has at times been too conservative with his approach, Southgate told a news conference: "I'm always looking at Chelsea who are the Champions League winners who play three attacking players.

"Liverpool play three attacking players normally. So what is required to win football matches at the very highest level? Most teams will get four in if they played two wide players, a 10 and a nine, or three forwards and an attacking eight.

"I don't see too many teams in world football who win things playing with five attacking players who have no tactical discipline or who have no balance to the team, so of course I understand people want to see exciting players. I get that. I think our goalscoring record is pretty strong compared to other nations.

"The teams that have won tournaments in the past were averaging 12 goals in those tournaments. We had 11, Italy got 13. We weren't far away on that. I think we play good football.

"I think we build the game. We retain possession of the ball. We need to do that better in the biggest matches when we are pressed intensely, without a doubt. But we can't get every attacking player on the pitch and some of them still have a long way to go to being the finished article.

"We have got some big players who have got us to a semi-final and a final, who have proved themselves in the biggest games on the biggest stage.

"We've got lots of guys with good reputations who haven't as yet necessarily won things with their clubs and who still have a lot to prove. That's going to be interesting to watch all those journeys this year, with us and with their clubs."

How did England perform in attack at Euro 2020?

While Southgate will rightly point to reaching a World Cup semi-final and then taking England to their first major tournament final since 1966 as evidence of the outstanding progress made, some questioning of his attacking plan does seem justified, however, based on the numbers from Euro 2020.

England did indeed score only two goals less than Italy at Euro 2020, with the Azzurri joint-top in that regard alongside semi-finalists Spain.

In terms of total chances created, England ranked fifth with 48, way behind leaders Italy (104), with Spain (86), Denmark (71) and Switzerland (52) also ahead of Southgate's team.

However, only Spain created more big chances – those defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score – than England's tally of 16, with the Three Lions converting half of these opportunities.

A total of 189 passes or crosses into the area also ranked England behind the other three teams to make it to the semi-finals. 

Italy, Spain, Denmark and Switzerland all had more shots than England, despite there of them playing fewer matches, while nine teams scored at a faster rate (England managed a goal every 57.27 minutes, whereas tournament leaders Spain recorded a strike every 41.54 minutes).

Only Belgium recorded a better shot conversion rate than England, though.

Gareth Southgate warned England must "start again" ahead of two "hugely challenging" World Cup qualifiers away to Hungary and Poland in the next week.

Southgate says the Three Lions have grown in confidence as a result of a run to the final of Euro 2020.

England have turned their attention to qualifying for the World Cup in Doha next year following the heartbreak of losing to Italy in the final of the European Championship at Wembley.

They lead Group I with a 100 per cent record from three matches, but face a big test against second-placed Hungary at the Puskas Arena on Thursday.

England face Andorra at Wembley on Sunday before a trip to take on Poland at the Stadion Narodowy next Wednesday.

Three Lions boss Southgate, who revealed winger Jadon Sancho is being assessed after taking a "small knock" in training, urged his side to kick on after they came agonisingly close to Euro 2020 glory on home soil.

"The players have gained confidence from what they've achieved [at Euro 2020] and the progress that they've made, not only this summer but over the last four years," he said.

"Equally, we have to start again. The chance to have another run like that is under way. Mentally, it's a very big test for us, we've got to go away from home now, 60,000 fans, they're a very good team to play against.

"We've got to be able to pick results up away from home. The two away games this week will be hugely challenging – two good teams and pivotal games in terms of qualification.

"Hungary are a good side, they've taken points off Poland, they took a point off France in the summer and off Germany."

Southgate added of the threat posed by Hungary: "If we allow them to play, they can play. If we dominate possession, they are very resilient.

"France had that problem, and it took Portugal over 80 minutes to score [against Hungary] in the summer. They are a very well organised team and we've got to be at our very best."

Southgate wants England to take charge of the group by stepping up in Budapest and Warsaw.

He said: "It is an important opportunity for us. If you can take points off your nearest challengers in their own home, then it puts us in a really strong position and we'd be in control of the group."

Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford has received a first England call-up for three World Cup qualifiers next month.

Bamford has been given the nod by Gareth Southgate for the games against Hungary, Andorra and Poland.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals in 38 games for Leeds on their return to the Premier League last season.

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope were also named in a 25-man squad after missing Euro 2020 due to injury, while Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard has been recalled.

There is no place for United's in-form teenage forward Mason Greenwood or Chelsea left-back Ben Chilwell.

England boss Southgate said "This is a fresh cycle. We were never looking to make a lot of changes. Ben White has had a situation with COVID [the Arsenal defender tested positive], Ben Chilwell hasn't played a game since the Champions League final.

"Those two are ruled out. [Phil] Foden and [Marcus] Rashford injured. We were very pleased with Ollie Watkins, now it's an opportunity for Patrick. His progress at Leeds has been excellent. We've worked with him at Under-21, it's a fabulous moment for him and his family."

The Three Lions, beaten by Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley last month, face Hungary at the Puskas Arena on September 2 before taking on Andorra at Wembley three days later and travel to Poland's Stadion Narodowy on September 8.

England are top of Group I with three wins out of three, leading Hungary by two points.

 

England squad: Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United); Patrick Bamford (Leeds United), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Gianfranco Zola has claimed England boss Gareth Southgate was "too conservative too soon" in the Euro 2020 final and suffered the inevitable consequences.

Italy's penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley on Sunday has been followed by reports that Southgate could soon be knighted.

That is despite his team falling short when they had home advantage, failing to build on Luke Shaw's second-minute strike that was the earliest goal scored in a European Championship final.

Roberto Mancini's impressive Italy had 19 shots to England's six over the 120 minutes, while also enjoying 65.4 per cent of possession. The Azzurri finished with an expected goals score of 2.16 compared to England's meagre 0.55, underlining their dominance of the chances.

Leonardo Bonucci's second-half equaliser was followed by Italy edging a nervy battle on spot-kicks to land the trophy for the first time since 1968, and Zola sensed England retreated too quickly into their shell.

"Maybe Southgate was a bit too conservative because England boast important players at the highest level," Zola told Stats Perform.

"They were doubtlessly advantaged and having scored after just two minutes gave them further advantages. But especially in the second half, they started defending the goal cushion too early, defending so deep – as they say in England – enabling Italy to find their pace and plays and the equaliser was a natural consequence.

"So Southgate was too conservative too soon.

"Mancini on the other hand was so good. All the subs proved him right. When he subbed [Nicolo] Barella I was expecting more [Manuel] Locatelli than [Bryan] Cristante, but he got that right too as the team kept their pace high, producing quality."

 

Former Italy forward Zola, who won 35 caps for the Azzurri, was surprised by how little influence England's Mason Mount had on the final.

Mount has been impressive in the Premier League for Chelsea, the club where Zola was such a favourite in a seven-year spell from 1996 to 2003.

But in 99 minutes of action against Italy, before being substituted, Mount had only 36 touches of the ball and completed just 15 of 22 passes for a 68.2 per cent success rate. All of Italy's starting XI had a higher percentage than Mount achieved, with Federico Chiesa's 77.8 per cent their lowest mark.

Chiesa was far more threatening than Mount, who was given an advanced midfield role by Southgate, operating just behind Harry Kane but barely having any influence on the game.

In 54 games for Chelsea last season, across all competitions, Mount scored nine goals, had eight assists and created 109 chances. The 22-year-old had one assist in 464 minutes of action at the Euros, creating eight chances over the tournament.

"For sure after what he had shown in the Premier League, in the Champions League and even in the friendlies ahead of the Euros, he didn't shine," Zola said.

"He is young and the long season with Chelsea where he always played may have had an impact on his sub-par performance. Yet, he is a very skilful player and this experience will help him become better and stronger.

"As I am told, he is a level-headed kind of guy so this experience will help him for sure."

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