England can ‘play better than we did the other day’, Southgate admits

UK

Gareth Southgate has admitted that England can “play better” than in their underwhelming opening performance at Euro 2024.

The team got off to a winning start, beating Serbia 1-0 thanks to Jude Bellingham’s superb first-half header, but endured a nervous finish as they held on for all three points awarded for a win.

“We know we have good players – we know we can play better than we did the other day,” Southgate said during a news conference in Frankfurt.

“But in a pressurised moment, I thought the players started the game brilliantly and defended really well through the game.”

Image:
England’s Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer in training on Wednesday. Pic: PA

Asked if they were too defensive against Serbia, the England manager said they “didn’t set out to sit back”.

He added: “Serbia came at us – they were a goal behind and had to take a different approach and are not an easy team to press.”

England’s second group game is against Denmark at 5pm on Thursday.

“We know we have to be better against a good Denmark side,” Southgate said.

Image:
Jude Bellingham celebrates after scoring a header against Serbia at England’s first game of Euro 2024. Pic: AP

“Kasper [Hjulmand] is an excellent coach and he could well tweak things for each game.

“Denmark have normally been adaptable with him – I like how they play. I think the character of the players grew through the last Euros.

“We know we have to be at our very best to win the game.”

Image:
England’s Conor Gallagher. Pic: PA

Read more:
A new-look England and another moment for Bellingham to shine
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Real Madrid star Bellingham, 20, is a “pleasure to work with” and “very coachable”, Southgate added.

But he was keen to stress it’s a team effort.

“The success of the team won’t rest on Jude’s shoulders,” Southgate said.

“Everyone has to contribute. But he does have an incredible mentality and he produced some brilliant moments the other night.”

Southgate confirmed that defender Luke Shaw is unavailable to face Denmark.

The England boss said the Manchester United player trained away from the squad on Wednesday – adding that he will not be rushed back into action.

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