Gareth Southgate believes he has the best striker in world football in captain Harry Kane – but admits the Bayern Munich forward would benefit from ending his career-long trophy drought.

Kane has been in scintillating form since moving to Germany from Tottenham in the summer, scoring 19 goals in 15 games for the Bundesliga giants.

He is the record goalscorer for both England and Spurs but has yet to win any major honours during his career.

Kane’s debut for Bayern was in a Super Cup defeat to RB Leipzig while a shock loss to third-tier Saarbrucken in the DFB-Pokal has also dented his chances.

But Bayern currently sit second in the league as they aim for a 12th consecutive title and also boast a 100 per cent record in their Champions League group.

Heading into next summer’s Euros, hosted in Germany, Southgate believes Kane would profit from breaking his trophy duck.

“I think clearly it’s a missing piece for him at the moment,” he said.

“I’m sure if you spoke to all our guys who have won trophies it changes how you view yourself.

“It isn’t going to change what we think he is capable of and isn’t going to change his talent. But in terms of his mindset and how he will feel I’m sure that’s something he will benefit from.

“Any player wants to win trophies, that’s what we are all geared to. He is of course proud of his individual awards but if you talk to him he wants to win something with his club or his country. That’s how he is driven, like they all are.”

Kane enjoyed a prolific spell at Spurs having come up through the ranks with the Premier League club but has taken his game to new heights since opting to leave for the continent in the summer.

Alongside fellow export Jude Bellingham – who is starring for Real Madrid after joining from Borussia Dortmund – Southgate feels he has an unrivalled pairing.

“I think on form it would be hard to beat them,” he said.

“I’m trying to think of everybody’s strike force, to be fair, and see what others have got. But the long and short of it is we’re really happy. We love the pair of them.

“They’re a handful, but also with the wide players we have who have to work for the team as well, the balance of everything at the moment is good.

“It’s great. We want good players who are playing well. I mean, we’re not the only ones with good players playing well, Portugal looks very, very strong. France is obviously very, very strong.

“But you want, ideally, to be going in as one of the favourites and that’s a position over the last couple of tournaments that we’ve been in and that’s where we want to be.

“So, for us it’s brilliant that they’re playing well, it is a bit early for us! But it’s great that you can see the level of the boys and the confidence that they’ll be getting from playing at big clubs in Europe.

“They’ll have a broader feel of where everything sits and perhaps the lads that have only played in England as well.”

Asked if Kane had gone up a level since making the move to Bayern, Southgate added: “His football has always been really good. What’s brilliant for him is he’s taken on a new challenge, a fresh life if you like.

“He’s moved to a big club abroad, which isn’t straightforward, but he’s adaptable unbelievably well. So I think the confidence he will take from that will be enormous.

“It struck me driving home from our last game, we were understandably talking about Jude but Kane had scored two, his overall performance was incredible and looking at the sheet, (his) caps and goals is staggering, really.

“So there is a risk we really underestimate what we’ve got and what we’ve had for the last few years because any team, any country would love him as their number nine.

“It’s not just his ability to score goals. His creative play, his passing, his hold-up play. And I think he’s pressing and working for the team as well as any stage of his career.

“So he really has relished the leadership, the captaincy, loves playing for England, never misses out – touch wood. So he really is a top level player.”

Gareth Southgate insists Raheem Sterling and Ben White have been left out of another England squad purely due to football reasons, but claimed the door is not closed on either.

Southgate named a 25-man group on Thursday for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers with Malta and North Macedonia.

John Stones was left out after he suffered an injury in Manchester City’s midweek win over Young Boys and Eddie Nketiah was also absent with an ankle knock, but Southgate declined the chance to recall 82-capped Sterling or Arsenal’s versatile defender White.

Both players have failed to feature in an England squad since the World Cup, where White headed home early after the group stage and Sterling briefly left the camp after his family home had been burgled.

Southgate said: “The door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players. There’s no doubt about that.

“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years.

“I can only repeat what I’ve said in the last few squad selection meetings. The team are playing really well.

“We had an exceptional win against Italy last time around. Who do we leave out to put him in? It is as simple as that really.

“He wasn’t available in March or June and the team started on a good run. We won in Italy for the first time in 60 years, the two performances in June were excellent, so we stuck with that group.

“There is no question Raheem is looking dangerous for his club, he looks invigorated since the start of the season.

“(But) that is an area of the pitch where we’ve probably got as much competition for places as anywhere.

“You look and Jarrod Bowen has got seven goals this season already, Anthony Gordon is playing very well at Newcastle, Cole Palmer is starting to play well. It is just a change in landscape there.”

White has played four times for England since his debut in 2021, but Southgate again pointed to the quality of personnel in the right-back area as a reason behind his continued absence.

“I assume so,” Southgate replied when asked if White was available for selection.

“Ben’s been very solid for Arsenal. He is a different profile of full-back.

“He is a centre-back playing full-back really and obviously he’s doing a good job for his club, but he’s behind others.

“We’ve got Kyle (Walker), Kieran (Trippier), we’ve got Trent (Alexander-Arnold), Reece James, so it is a position where we’ve got strength.

“There are a couple of good young ones coming through and again we’re on a good run. The defence are playing well, so that’s where we’re at.”

Chelsea captain James is fit again after a hamstring injury, but requested to be left out of the squad after it had been expected he would replace Stones.

Southgate added: “I was hoping to call up Reece James, but he doesn’t feel he is quite ready and I understand that.

“He’s had a long path back from a number of injuries and he’s cautious in that respect. I can understand why.

“I am really disappointed for John. The quality of his play is outstanding. He’s having a difficult time injury-wise at the moment, so that’ a shame to see him out.

“As you say, it gives other people an opportunity and we do need to know a little bit more about some of the players in that area of the pitch.”

Meanwhile, Southgate paid tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton, who died last month and will be honoured in England’s home fixture with Malta next week.

“I think he is respected around the world and clearly our greatest ever player when you think of not only the World Cup, but also winning the European Cup and everything he did at club level,” he reflected.

“Very sad. We were fortunate to have met him a few times and incredibly humble, so yes our condolences with all his family but hopefully we get the chance to honour him at Wembley and it will be a celebration of life because he absolutely deserves that.”

Gareth Southgate insists he will not remain as England manager just to “rack up” games or years in the job.

The 53-year-old signed a new contract following England’s quarter-final World Cup exit in Qatar last year and the deal runs until next December.

That will take in Euro 2024 in Germany, with Southgate’s side having already qualified for the finals with two games to spare.

After guiding England to a World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, Southgate has enjoyed some of the best success of any manager of the national team since the glory of 1966.

He took the reins, initially on an interim basis, in 2016 but asked if he would be interested in staying on until the 2026 World Cup and making it a decade in charge, Southgate replied: “I’ve not even thought about it at all.

“The last time we played Malta here, I found out I was taking the team four days before the camp.

“Most things I’ve done in my life since finishing playing, I didn’t know anything about until a few days before they happened.

“I’m not one who has ever sort of had a plan in my mind of what my career would be. Let’s just enjoy what we’re doing, try and do it as well as we can and crack on with it.

“I’m not interested in just racking up games or racking up years. Its about being the best team we can be and taking on those challenges. I’m not just here to collect caps.

“It is about doing the job as well as I can, being excited by it, motivating the players, having the level of performance we’ve had for six or seven years.

“We’ve been in the top five for the last five years. That’s good, consistent performances and results, that would indicate. I’m genuinely not thinking about it.”

Southgate believes the life of an international manager is judged on a tournament-by-tournament basis and claimed to not be considering anything beyond aiming for success at the Euros next year.

“I’m out of contract next December and I think any manager who is thinking beyond seven months is in a privileged position really,” he added.

“I’m super-excited about the tournament. We’re really gearing towards the next tournament and I think everybody in international football is living from tournament to tournament so for me, I’m really comfortable with the position.

“I’m loving working with this team, I’m loving working with the staff that work around the team as well. We’re looking forward to the next few months.”

England manager Gareth Southgate resisted the temptation to make changes to his latest squad ahead of the final Euro 2024 qualification double-header.

Southgate’s side are already assured of a spot in next summer’s finals in Germany but it was a 25-man squad of familiar names picked for the home game against Malta and a trip to North Macedonia later this month.

From the previous squad, Manchester City defender John Stones missed out through injury but was not replaced, while Eddie Nketiah has an ankle issue and Newcastle’s Callum Wilson came in to replace the Arsenal striker.

Southgate insisted the door remains open for Raheem Sterling, who has now missed the last five international camps since being part of the squad for the World Cup in Qatar last year.

He said: “Well, the door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players not in the squad.

“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years.

“I can only repeat what I have said in the meetings, we’re playing exceptionally well and who can I leave out?”

Southgate expressed his disappointment that Stones had sustained another injury and revealed Reece James asked not to be included in the squad after only recently returning to action after a hamstring issue.

“I am really disappointed for John,” Southgate admitted.

“The quality of his play is outstanding. He’s having a difficult time injury-wise at the moment, but it gives others an opportunity and we do need to know a little bit more about other players in that area of the pitch.”

On James, Southgate revealed: “I was hoping to call Reece James, but he doesn’t feel he is quite ready and I understand that.”

There are injury doubts over James Maddison (ankle), Jude Bellingham (shoulder), Bukayo Saka (ankle) and Wilson (hamstring).

Southgate acknowledged: “You would be amazed at how complicated it is picking a squad because all clubs are sensitive to information. I couldn’t be certain that everyone in that squad will be there on Sunday night and Callum Wilson is the biggest doubt, but equally I am pretty confident the others can get through.”

Southgate paid tribute to England World Cup-winner Sir Bobby Charlton, who died last month.

“So much has been said and it is difficult to add anything that carries further weight,” Southgate said at Wembley.

“Respected around the world and clearly our greatest ever player when you think of not only the World Cup, but winning the European Cup.

“Very sad. We were fortunate to have met him a few times and incredibly humble, so yes our condolences to all family and hopefully we get the chance to honour him in a celebration of life (against Malta) because he absolutely deserves that.”

John Stones’ injury has given England manager Gareth Southgate the chance to explore his centre-back options in the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.

The City defender was forced off with a problem in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Young Boys with boss Pep Guardiola admitting it is “deep bad news”.

Stones only returned to action in October after a two-month absence with hamstring and hip problems but Southgate had no hesitation in starting him in the important qualifying win over Italy.

But with qualification for the summer’s tournament in Germany already secured, Southgate – who names his squad on Thursday – can afford to look at his back-up options.

Brighton captain Lewis Dunk and AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori started together in last month’s friendly win over Australia but Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi was the man Southgate opted to replace Stones for the final 27 minutes against Italy and has the most caps of the trio.

Injuries to Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw meant Kieran Trippier filled in at left-back against Italy but Chelsea’s Levi Colwill started against Australia and could be another one to benefit from any experimentation.

Colwill’s club captain Reece James could be in for a recall having returned from injury while Chelsea team-mate Raheem Sterling will be hoping two goals and some improved form in his last five matches will earn him a call-up for the first time since the World Cup.

Those chances could be enhanced depending on the extent of the ankle injury sustained by James Maddison during Tottenham’s loss to Chelsea on Monday and how significant the hamstring problem which forced off Callum Wilson in Newcastle’s Champions League defeat against Borussia Dortmund.

But Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka should return after withdrawing from the squad in October.

Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips’ 49 minutes of action since his international start against Italy is unlikely to count against him, but James Ward-Prowse is knocking on the door of a first call-up in 14 months after a number of good performances for West Ham.

Michael O’Neill is bracing himself for another challenging international window as Northern Ireland’s bruising Euro 2024 qualifying campaign comes to an end this month.

Any hope of reaching next summer’s tournament was virtually extinguished as long ago as June, and with only two wins – both against San Marino – and six defeats in Group H, Northern Ireland would have been forgiven for wanting to fast forward to the end of a campaign ruined by an ongoing injury crisis.

But two games remain and with a trip to Finland, the pot two team in last October’s draw, to come before top seeds Denmark visit Windsor Park on October 20, they are two of the hardest on paper.

O’Neill on Wednesday welcomed back Ciaron Brown and Jordan Jones into his squad but the 26-strong group was another one largely dictated by who is and who is not available due to injury, and the headwinds remain firmly against Northern Ireland.

Finland blew their chance to qualify with back-to-back defeats to Slovenia and Kazakhstan last month, but Denmark are level on points with Slovenia at the top of the standings, looking to finish the job off.

“They will be difficult games but all the games have been difficult,” O’Neill told the PA news agency.

“When I look at the team and I take the results out of it and look at where we are, how we are in possession and a number of other areas, there’s not a lot of difference between all the teams in the group bar Denmark who have been the most dominant.

“We have to look at the positives. We’re not that far behind these teams but we’ve come out on the wrong side of narrow scorelines. We have to learn from that.

“We have been more dominant in possession than some of my previous teams but we’ve not carried the same threat, and obviously we’ve gone behind in games so we’ve not had the opportunity to defend a lead and I think that’s when you’ve seen the best of Northern Ireland, in that situation.”

Although Brown and Jones return, Conor Bradley, Ali McCann and Shayne Lavery all remain unavailable, as do the senior players – Steven Davis, Stuart Dallas, Corry Evans and Shane Ferguson – who have missed the entire campaign.

“It’s a blow not to have young Conor back and to have Ali McCann and Shayne Lavery still out as well,” O’Neill said.

“We’re trying to pick a consistent squad and with the injuries there are still up to seven or eight players who could be involved that aren’t.

“It’s not like there’s a number of players on the periphery we could select ahead of those we have selected. The lads we’ve picked are the ones playing more regular football at their clubs and who merit their place at this moment in time.

“We’re trying to grow a team, to develop a team and we have to continue to do that. With the older players we don’t know what involvement they will have going forward, that’s a decision they have to make.

“The backbone of the squad is very, very young and we have to get as much international experience into them as possible and hopefully that experience is as positive as possible as well.”

Daniel Ballard is fit again after a calf injury, while Shea Charles retains his place in the group although the Southampton player will miss the trip to Helsinki through suspension, having been sent off in last month’s 1-0 home defeat to Slovenia.

Eighteen-year-old striker Callum Marshall is in the squad again after some excellent form for West Ham Under-21s, and will hope for another chance after being denied a debut goal away to Denmark in June when his late equaliser was disallowed.

Steve Clarke wants Scotland to use their final Euro 2024 qualifiers against Georgia and Norway to regain their momentum ahead of the finals in Germany next summer.

The Scots initially suspected they might need positive results from their last two games in Group A to qualify so organised a warm-weather training camp in Turkey at the start of next week to give themselves the best possible preparation ahead of their penultimate fixture in Tbilisi on Thursday.

However, after a blistering start to their campaign, they sealed their place at the tournament with two games to spare, so their main priority in the upcoming camp is to spark an upturn in results after successive defeats against England, Spain and France.

“We’ll be doing something similar to what we did when we went to Moldova (in 2021, when they had a warm-weather training camp in Spain), so we’ll leave early, on Sunday night after the games, and we’re going to stop off in Turkey and have a couple of days of hopefully warm weather there to break up the journey,” Clarke said at a press conference on Wednesday after naming his squad for the double-header.

“We identified these two games – Georgia away and Norway at home – as crucial games in the qualification process, but credit to the players, they’ve already qualified, so the games are not quite as crucial.

“But when you strip it back, we’ve lost the last three games, so we want to pick up a little bit of momentum going into the tournament next summer, so these two games are very important for us.

“It will be good to come here to finish the campaign with a home game against Norway and hopefully a good performance.

“It will be a chance for the crowd to thank the players and a chance for the players to thank the crowd. It will be a bit of a poor night if we don’t win the game, so let’s make sure we win the game.”

The 2-0 defeat by Spain in Seville saw Scotland relinquish top spot in Group A on goal difference. Spain finish away to Cyprus and at home to Georgia.

“I think to finish top is going to be very difficult,” said Clarke. “As I sit here now, it’s difficult for me to see Spain dropping any points from their last two games.

“We’ll just focus on ourselves and, if we can finish on the same points as Spain and they manage to top the group by an unfortunate slip from Aaron Hickey in the 2-0 defeat by Spain in Seville, we’ll take that.”

Scotland are missing four established starters for this month’s double-header, with goalkeeper Angus Gunn, captain Andrew Robertson, and fellow defenders Kieran Tierney and Aaron Hickey all injured.

Rangers defender John Souttar and Millwall forward Kevin Nisbet are the other notable absentees following their recent fitness issues.

Uncapped duo Josh Doig and Robby McCrorie, both of whom have been in previous camps, have been included, along with Celtic right-back Anthony Ralston.

“This is probably the toughest it’s been in terms of injuries in the last year or so,” said Clarke. “I remember in September last year we had to go to Ukraine in the Nations League with pretty much a shadow squad, but we dug in and got the result required.

“That’s what we’ll do this time. We can talk about the ones who are not here, but I always prefer to talk about the ones that are going to be here, so fingers crossed there are no more injuries before the squad meet up on Sunday.”

With first-choice Gunn missing with an injury he sustained for Norwich against Leeds last month, Motherwell’s Liam Kelly and Hearts’ Zander Clark, both of whom made their international bows in the friendly defeat by France last month, will vie to make their competitive debuts over the next two games.

“Obviously one of them is going to get a chance to play in the games coming up, so it’s a big camp for them,” said Clarke. “They know they have to impress.

“They’ve been in a lot of squads so they understand it and know the expectation around them. Hopefully they train well and are ready to play.”

Clarke included uncapped Verona left-back Doig after he was initially named in Scot Gemmill’s under-21 squad this week.

“Josh is doing well in Serie A, playing pretty regularly for his club,” said Clarke.

“He’s a good, athletic player who gets up and down the line. It will be nice to see how he’s improved and how he fits into the camp since we last saw him last September.”

Clarke insists he has not allowed his attention to turn towards his final 23-man squad for the Euros just yet.

“It won’t be a headache, it will be a difficult choice,” he said. “There’s obviously going to be a lot of people that want to be there.

“For me, it’s about not thinking too far ahead to picking the 23 because as this camp shows, injuries can turn up at any time.

“There’s a long way to go before the final squad is picked. Every game between now and the squad selection for the Euros next summer is a chance for somebody to impress so hopefully they take their chances.”

Rob Page says he has cleared the air with Football Association of Wales chief Noel Mooney after their public spat last month.

Mooney put Page’s future in the spotlight four days before the Euro 2024 qualifier against Croatia by saying the manager’s position would be reviewed if Wales did not qualify for Euro 2024 automatically.

Subsequent media reports suggested Mooney had wanted fellow Irishman Roy Keane, the former Sunderland and Ipswich manager and TV pundit, to replace Page following June defeats to Armenia and Turkey.

Page is just over 12 months into a four-year contract and promised to “ignore the noise” during the build-up to a game that Wales eventually won 2-1 to move into the second automatic qualifying place in Group D.

Captain Ben Davies described Mooney’s comments as “not helpful”, and Page said the issue has since been addressed at a meeting between himself, the chief executive and FAW president Steve Williams.

“It was a conversation all three of us needed,” Page said when announcing his squad on Wednesday for this month’s final Euro 2024 qualifiers against Armenia and Turkey.

“I’m not going to go into details of what was said. It needed to be done and only positives will come from it.

“I’m due to meet him (Mooney) after the press conference and we’ll have a coffee and a chat.

“Things were said and that was it. We all move forward in the same direction. Full focus is now on the football.

“It was frustrating, unnecessary. But I don’t want to spend any more time thinking about it. We’re all on the same page.

“We all know what we’ve got to do. It would be disrespectful from me now to the players to keep going on about it.”

Tottenham forward Brennan Johnson returns to a 23-man squad after missing the win over Croatia with a hamstring injury.

Page maintains stand-in skipper Davies will be fit for both qualifiers, despite the defender missing Spurs’ 4-1 Premier League defeat against Chelsea on Monday and also being in danger of sitting out his club’s weekend game at Wolves.

Sunderland defender Niall Huggins has won his first senior call-up and Portsmouth midfielder Joe Morrell returns after a two-match suspension.

But Aaron Ramsey is again ruled out with the knee injury he sustained in September, and Page says the Cardiff midfielder has suffered a “setback” in his recovery.

He said: “It’s disappointing, I found out on Friday last week. As we all know Aaron was pushing and pushing to be part of this camp.

“Unfortunately it’s come a little too soon for him. He’s had a setback. He got up to about 90 per cent. If you’d seen him on the grass, straight lines, everything was fine.

“But there was something stopping him from going to that last step. So it’s not great for us, but it gives others an opportunity.

“He’ll be a part of it (the squad). I had that conversation with him last camp. He knew he wasn’t going to play any minutes in regards to the changing room, but to have Aaron around the lads is definitely beneficial.”

Wales can avoid the play-offs in March by beating Armenia in Yerevan on November 18 and Turkey in Cardiff three days later.

Dropped points in either game will leave them relying on other results to join already-qualified Turkey at next summer’s European Championship in Germany.

“June was a bump in the road,” Page said of damaging defeats to Armenia and Turkey in the space of four days.

“We didn’t like it. We didn’t appreciate it. We didn’t like what we saw, but we put it right in September (by beating Latvia) – and some.

“We built on that in October and capped it off with arguably one of the best performances that I’ve seen.

“We have to build on that. It will count for nothing if we don’t follow it up.”

England’s impressive victory over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night confirmed their qualification for Euro 2024.

While there are still two qualifiers still to play in November, attention will already be shifting to how England end a 58-year wait for a major men’s trophy in Germany next summer.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key questions Gareth Southgate will need to answer between now and the start of the finals as he prepares to lead England into a fourth tournament as manager.

Faith no more?

Southgate has always remained loyal to players he feels he can trust and who have not let him down when they have turned out for England.

Among the current crop, former Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips started the win over the Azzurri despite playing a combined total of 186 Premier League minutes so far this season.

Whether their places in Southgate’s plans are sustainable if such a dearth of club football remains is something only the England manager will know – likewise with Jordan Henderson plying his trade in the Saudi Pro League and whether the competition there is enough to keep the former Liverpool man competitive.

The last dance?

There was plenty of speculation that Southgate would leave his position after the World Cup in Qatar.

England were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by France but that did not deter Southgate’s belief that he could achieve something special with the players at his disposal.

His contract, however, expires next year and, having been at the helm since 2016, he may be tempted to seek a new challenge regardless of how England do in Germany and that may be something that will weigh on his mind leading into the finals.

Spring break opponents?

The March international break is expected to see England host two Wembley friendlies in what will be the last chance Southgate has to work with his players in the run-up to Euro 2024.

He will be keen to work closely with the Football Association to make sure the right opponents are found to aid that preparation – especially as, by that stage, England will know who they will face in the group stages.

While morale-boosting wins will be welcomed, Southgate and his coaching staff will also want to test the players against the highest-calibre rivals and striking a balance there could be key.

Who is most able to support Kane?

Captain Harry Kane moved onto an unmatched 61 England goals with his brace in the win over Italy.

The Bayern Munich striker shows no signs of slowing down and will no doubt lead from the front if he is fit and raring to go next summer.

The question remains who will fill the unenviable position as Kane’s deputy within Southgate’s 23-man squad and the boss will be taking a close look at the form of players such as Ollie Watkins, Callum Wilson, Eddie Nketiah and Ivan Toney in the coming months.

Starting positions?

A number of players are seemingly all but assured of inclusion – fitness-permitting – in England’s starting XI for their opener next June, but Southgate does have a couple of issues at both left-back and in central midfield.

Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell are natural left-backs but both are injured and have history of fitness concerns, meaning Kieran Trippier could be asked to deputise, while Levi Colwill made his debut there against Australia having risen up through the ranks as a central defender.

In midfield, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice have been superb for club and country this year but the third berth is a more difficult conundrum. With Phillips not playing regularly and Henderson now in Saudi Arabia, the door could be open to someone like Conor Gallagher or Trent Alexander-Arnold, who the FA now lists as a midfielder, getting a chance to impress before the tournament.

Gareth Southgate says there can be no let-up after sealing early qualification for Euro 2024, telling England’s players to grab next month’s chance to impress and ensure their place as top seeds.

Having set out their stall with an impressive victory over Italy in March’s Group C opener, three further wins and an away draw against Ukraine put them within touching distance of progress.

England took their chance to qualify for an eighth straight major tournament with two games to spare on Tuesday night, coming from behind to beat holders Italy 3-1 at a sold-out Wembley.

Southgate’s Euro 2020 runners-up have silverware in their sights next summer and are waiting to find out how things will shape up in Germany at the draw in Hamburg on December 2.

But before that comes the end of qualification at home to Malta and away to North Macedonia, with the England boss calling on his players to end an unbeaten 2023 on a high.

“We can now plan,” England boss Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live after their place at Euro 2024 was mathematically secured.

“We have been planning anyway for base camps and things because I think the days are gone where we didn’t do that in case it brought bad luck.

“We decided a long time ago that you have to plan as if you’re going to be there.

“We still need to win the matches next month because I think it won’t be enough to win the group to be one of the top seeds, so we’ll need a high points tally as well.

“But also I want to see all the players again next month.

“We’re not going to flog them physically. We didn’t do that this month. We’ve looked after them. We’re dealing well with the clubs on that.

“I have to say Manchester City were brilliant with this with John Stones. We’ve managed his return to play really well and I think that’s worked for both of us.

“So we now can really start to look forward with enthusiasm for next summer, but we want to finish the year, the calendar year, well as well next month.”

Southgate pledged to again give players the chance to stake their claims for a Euros spot in November’s fixtures.

“Similar to this month, we want to give people opportunities,” Southgate said at the post-match press conference.

“We need to win two matches firstly, but there’s a chance to look at look at players again, which we need to do.”

Ollie Watkins and Jarrod Bowen returned to the set-up in October and will be hoping to get another chance to impress, having started against Australia, with the former scoring in the 1-0 friendly win.

Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah are also in that boat, having made their debuts on Friday before Southgate reverted to the tried and tested against Luciano Spalletti’s revitalised Azzurri.

The England boss made a full 11 changes from the Socceroos encounter, with eight of Tuesday’s line-up having started the Euro 2020 final against Italy 27 months ago.

Skipper Harry Kane was, unsurprisingly, among them and took his record national team goal haul to 61 with his brace in the comeback triumph.

“There’s a risk we take the goals for granted,” Southgate said of the Bayern Munich sharpshooter.

“But his all-round play, his hold up play, the way physically dealt with the centre-backs, his vision, his passing – because we have had him for a while it’s easy to underestimate, but he’s a top-level player.

“He’s also now got a new experience at a different club, where he’s looking to win trophies all the time, and he’s got to win every week. (There is a) different sort of focus and pressure as the big signing there, so all of that’s good.

“I think he’s enjoying also coming back to England and mixing with the lads because he’s very close with all of the group.

“I’ve said before, our senior players set a brilliant example for the young ones.

“They provide that spirit. They’ve been through so much together and they provide us with such a brilliant platform.”

England, Scotland, Spain, France, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium and Austria all secured their places at Euro 2024 in the latest round of qualifying fixtures.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what still to be resolved in November and the play-offs.

Group A

Scotland and Spain have both qualified for the finals, but top spot remains up for grabs.

Spain head to Cyprus and then host Georgia, while Scotland face a trip to Tbilisi before welcoming Norway to Hampden Park – where the Tartan Army are expected to revel in a Euro 2024 qualification party.

Georgia are set to go into the play-offs based on their Nations League ranking as a group winner.

Norway are one of several countries who will have to wait on all the other results to see if they can make the cut as one of 12 teams split through three paths.

Group B

While France have qualified automatically for the finals as group winners, the Netherlands still have work to do.

The Dutch edged past Greece with a stoppage-time penalty from captain Virgil van Dijk on Monday night – and victory over the Republic of Ireland in Amsterdam will secure a top-two finish.

Greece, though, could also still reach Euro 2024, having already been assured of a place in the play-offs.

Indeed because of UEFA’s complex weighted system based on overall Nations League rankings, the Republic are still not theoretically out of the running to be involved in the play-offs in March – and could even see their slim hopes boosted by a loss in Amsterdam on November 18 if other results also fall into place.

Group C

England’s 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night saw them qualify with two matches left.

Italy are third, but qualification remains in their own hands if they can beat North Macedonia.

The Azzurri would then edge out Ukraine to the runners-up spot should they go on to avoid defeat in the final group game between the two countries in Leverkusen on November 20.

Italy are also assured of place in the play-offs should it be needed.

Group D

Turkey have secured qualification, but the race to join them looks set to go to the wire.

Wales will if they beat Armenia in Yerevan and Croatia suffer an unexpected defeat away to Latvia.

Armenia, though, are still not out of the mix, sitting just three points behind Wales and Croatia with two games left.

Qualification could all hinge on the very last round of fixtures – which sees Wales host Turkey in Cardiff and Croatia play Armenia in Zagreb on November 21.

However, Croatia are assured of at least a play-off spot if they do not qualify automatically.

Group E

In another tight group, leaders Albania, the Czech Republic, Poland and even Moldova can all still qualify.

Albania will qualify if they avoid defeat by Moldova in their next match or if Poland – currently third and with just one game left – beat the Czechs.

An away win in Warsaw, though, would see the Czech Republic qualify if Moldova do not beat Albania.

Moldova have two games left, which they realistically would need to win to keep in the qualification mix.

Despite being bottom of the table with just one point from seven games, the Faroe Islands could yet find themselves in the play-offs depending on other results.

Group F

Austria and group leaders Belgium have both qualified.

Belgium’s game against Sweden at the King Baudouin Stadium on Monday night was abandoned at half-time after two people were shot dead in Brussels. It has yet to be confirmed whether the fixture will be replayed.

Azerbaijan are not theoretically out of play-off contention, while bottom side Estonia are the top-ranked team from Nations League Group D.

Group G

Leaders Hungary – who have Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles in the squad – missed the chance to qualify after having to recover to draw 2-2 in Lithuania.

However, a point in their next match away to Bulgaria would see them through, as would Montenegro not beating Lithuania.

Second-placed Serbia will qualify if Montenegro fail to win on November 16 or they themselves beat Bulgaria in their last game.

Bottom side Bulgaria have slim play-off hopes, but Serbia are secured a spot if they need it as one of the Nations League group winners.

Group H

Slovenia, who beat Northern Ireland in Belfast on Tuesday night, and Denmark are in the driving seat to qualify, sitting four points clear of Kazakhstan.

A win in Copenhagen for either team on November 17 would see them through, as would San Marino getting an unlikely positive result against Kazakhstan.

Finland will go into the play-offs, which is also the likely route for Kazakhstan.

Group I

Switzerland’s fightback with two late goals to draw 3-3 against Belarus left them second in the table, a point behind leaders Romania having played a game less.

Israel – assured of at least a play-off spot – are four points adrift, and have their rearranged match with the Swiss on November 15.

Switzerland will qualify if they win their next two fixtures, while Romania will if the Swiss lose in Tel Aviv and they themselves then beat Israel on November 18.

Romania are set to host Switzerland in the final round of fixtures, while Israel’s postponed match against Kosovo has still to be rescheduled.

Group J


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Portugal qualified for the finals as runaway group winners with a 100 per cent record so far through eight games.

Slovakia will also qualify with a match to spare if they avoid defeat against Iceland.

Luxembourg are five points behind, so look likely to go into the play-offs along with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Phil Foden believes England are enjoying “great times” and is relishing being among a wealth of attacking options, even if they mean he is not a certain starter at Euro 2024.

The Manchester City forward started England’s 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night as the hosts secured qualification to next summer’s finals in Germany.

The Euro 2020 runners-up will no doubt be among the favourites to win the tournament after another strong showing throughout the qualifying campaign.

“These are definitely great times for England,” said Foden.

“We’ve reached a final now and we want to keep doing that. We’ve had a taste for it and we want to be in the big games and the big occasions and we’ve got experience on the pitch to do that so we are enjoying it.

“I thought it was a brilliant performance. I thought our defensive work was really good. When you come up against the likes of Italy you’ve got to defend sometimes because they have a great quality.

“We showed that throughout the game, not just attacking, but the defending side as well so I’m delighted with the result. That’s where we want to be, beating these big teams so we are really happy.”

A treble winner with City last season, Foden now has 29 senior England caps but is not an automatic starter for his country.

Boss Gareth Southgate has plenty of attacking talent at his disposal, with Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, who missed this international break with a foot injury, arguably ahead of Foden in the current pecking order.

“Bukayo is a quality player, every time he puts on an England shirt he is at least a seven out of 10,” Foden told BBC Radio 5Live.

“He is a fantastic player and it’s exciting, because we’ve still got big players to come back and help us as well.

“So it shows the depth of the squad and, if I’m not starting, I want to come on and try and change the game, so I’m here to help the team as best as I can.”

Liam Kelly reflected on the “best moment” of his life after eventually making his Scotland debut in the 4-1 defeat by France in Lille on Tuesday night.

The 27-year-old Motherwell goalkeeper was first called up to the senior squad four years ago and had to patiently await his chance, which came when Steve Clarke rested number one Angus Gunn and started with Kelly before bringing on Hearts keeper and fellow debutant Zander Clark at the interval.

It was a sore night for the Scots however, despite taking an early lead through Billy Gilmour’s first goal in senior football.

France defender Benjamin Pavard scored twice with headers as a star-studded home side fought back.

Skipper Kylian Mbappe added a third from the spot before the break and substitute Kingsley Coman hammered a fourth past Clark in the 70th minute to seal a convincing friendly win for the superior hosts.

“The best moment of your life, isn’t it?” said Kelly when asked about his first appearance for his country.

“I played for every age group with Scotland up until now and I have been in a lot of squads along with big Zander so I was just delighted to get that moment eventually.

“I’m so grateful to the manager to get that chance and I am delighted for big Zander as well because we have been in this together from the start.

“During the game you can’t think about anything else or else you get punished, so maybe now and over the next few days it will start to sink in a wee bit but yes, the best moment of your life playing for your country.

“Me and Zander have been in the squad a long time, you take any chance you can get.

“As I said I am really grateful to the manager to give me that chance.

“He didn’t have to do it, he could have played big Angus again so I am over the moon and thankful he gave me that opportunity.

“I think I done OK in the game so it all went to plan, apart from the scoreline.”

Clark, 31, was similarly delighted to make his debut as replacement for long-time buddy Kelly.

He said: “As a kid you always dream of that moment and it was a great feeling and a special occasion as well.

“I am buzzing for Liam as well, I have known him since we were kids and a lot of hard work has gone into it.

“For us to get the first on the same night is a special moment.

“It was tough, they had stars all over the place.

“But we had good spells and a great finish by Billy and it was unfortunate to come away with such a heavy defeat but pleased with the effort we put in.”

Jude Bellingham insists there is a belief among the England camp that they can achieve “something special” at Euro 2024 as he hailed manager Gareth Southgate.

The 20-year-old midfielder has been starring for new club Real Madrid this season and was the best player on the pitch as England beat Italy 3-1 at Wembley on Tuesday night to book their spot at next summer’s European Championship.

Bellingham won a penalty which was converted by Harry Kane to draw the hosts level before driving forward to play in Marcus Rashford, whose finish turned the game in England’s favour before captain Kane added late gloss with a third.

The Euro 2020 runners-up will no doubt be among the favourites at the finals in Germany and Bellingham feels there could be a good chance to go one better than two years ago.

“As well as the young players, there’s a great mix of experience who guide us throughout the game and throughout the camps and there is a belief that we could do something special,” he said.

“But it’s all about delivering. It’s all about when the time comes, being there, being present, being ready to take on the challenge and it’s about combining all those things, our past experience and what we have in the dressing room to make sure we’re going to be successful.”

Euro 2024 will be a fourth consecutive tournament under the stewardship of Southgate, who also guided England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup before reaching the quarter-finals in Qatar last winter.

While he has yet been unable to bring in the first major silverware for the men’s national team since 1966, Bellingham believes Southgate deserves to be spoken of among the world’s elite coaches.

Asked if he should be considered alongside Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, Bellingham told beIN Sports: “100 per cent – look at his record as England manager, no-one’s done it as well as him for however many years.

“He takes the time to understand players personally and he knows what kind of things motivate them and get them going for games and I think that is what makes him so top in my opinion, he makes everyone feel so comfortable to play and it’s a pleasure for me to play under him.”

Bellingham will now turn his attention back to LaLiga and the Champions League with Real but admits he is looking forward to returning to Germany, where he previously played for Borussia Dortmund, after England got the job done on Tuesday.

“I can’t wait to go back there,” he added.

“Obviously, it’s a long season until then and it’s about building that momentum until then but you can’t take it for granted.

“There are a lot of players who don’t get to play at those kind of tournaments when their team don’t qualify and I’m sure they’d prefer to be there than sitting at home.

“So we never take it for granted. I’m really grateful that we put in a performance like that to see us through.”

Gareth Southgate says England are ready to fight for European Championship glory having progressed from what he believes was the toughest qualifying group with two matches to spare.

After bouncing back from December’s World Cup quarter-final exit to France by winning in Naples in March, three further wins and a draw away to Ukraine put the Euro 2020 runners-up within touching distance of progress.

Unbeaten England only needed a point against Italy to wrap up qualification for next year’s finals in Germany but went on to secure all three thanks to an impressive 3-1 comeback victory at a sold-out Wembley.

“Really pleased to win the game tonight,” manager Southgate said after sealing their spot at Euro 2024. “That’s the first thing.

“We know that the games against the top, top nations are the ones that we want to make a step forward with.

“We still need to win the games next month because it can affect seeding.

“Nice to get it done early. I think it’s probably the toughest qualifying group, with Ukraine, Italy and the results that North Macedonia have had, not only in this qualification but also in previous qualifications.”

The pressure is off as England welcome Malta next month, before rounding off 2023 away to North Macedonia buoyed by an impressive victory against Italy.

Former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca had put the Azzurri ahead on Tuesday as these nations met at Wembley for the first time since the Euro 2020 final.

But Harry Kane levelled from the spot and Marcus Rashford finished off a fine second-half team move, before the skipper added his second on a night that underlined their place among the Euro 2024 favourites.

“I think we have to accept that,” Southgate said. “I think pressure comes when expectation is different to reality and the reality is we are going to be one of the teams capable of winning.

“There are others. You know, it’s a very strong (line-up). You’ve only got to look through the top 10 European nations and on any given night one can beat another.

“We’re seeing in a Rugby World Cup now that teams that were ranked one and two in the world in those moments haven’t been able to get there.  That’s tournaments.

“But we’re comfortable with that. I’ve talked about that from when we played at Naples and we delivered that night.

“I think we’ve continued to do that through this calendar year. I think our performances have been good.

“I think the players that played against Australia did a brilliant job for us.

“If we didn’t have the depth that we’ve got and the mentality to come through what was a really tough night for them, we wouldn’t have been able to have the freshness that we had tonight to give ourselves the best chance of winning the game.”

One of the keys to success next summer will undoubtedly be the brilliance of midfielder Jude Bellingham.

The Real Madrid star is arguably the best player on the planet right now and earned the first half penalty scored by Kane, before winning the ball and playing in Rashford.

“With Jude, his mentality is incredible for his age,” Southgate said.

“To have such an impact at such a young age, to show such maturity but also humility. We’re very lucky to have him.”

As for Italy, Tuesday’s defeat under the arch leaves them in third in Group C and three points behind second-placed Ukraine.

But Luciano Spalletti’s men have a game in hand on Sergey Rebrov’s outfit, who they face in the final round of fixtures.

“We have to win our next game so we can then travel away to Ukraine to compete,” the Italy boss said, looking ahead to November’s home clash with North Macedonia.

“I saw a team trying to do what I asked of them and I saw some good things. We made a few errors as well.

“With the things we did well, we weren’t able to score but as soon as we made a mistake, we conceded.”

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