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England boss Gareth Southgate targets glory at Euro 2020

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England boss Gareth Southgate targets glory at Euro 2020, insisting ‘we shouldn’t be afraid of saying we want to go and win’ but admits the Three Lions won’t have it easy against tough opposition

  • England head into summer’s European Championship as one of the favourites
  • Manager Gareth Southgate wants his players to give fans a reason to dream
  • Southgate admits though that England will face tough fixtures at the finals 

Gareth Southgate has encouraged his England stars to ‘allow everybody to dream’ this summer by proving themselves capable of beating the best sides on their way to Euro 2020 glory.

Despite a tricky last year which saw them fall short of the Nations League finals, the popularity of the England team among the public is still high following their encouraging performance to reach the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and enter the finals as one of the pre-tournament favourites.

Southgate, who has seen improvements since taking over as manager in 2016, faces a tough start to the tournament with a group stage featuring Czech Republic, Croatia and Scotland – who are all likely to give the Three Lions stern tests. The England boss believes though his players shouldn’t be afraid of challenging themselves to go all the way this summer.

England boss Gareth Southgate wants his players to be able to dream of winning Euro 2020

England boss Gareth Southgate wants his players to be able to dream of winning Euro 2020

‘I said ahead of Russia that we wanted the country to have pride in the team and I think we achieved that,’ Southgate said. ‘Some of that is about results and some of that is about the way the team are and the connection with the fans.

‘Now, of course, if you don’t win the matches, then that pride isn’t there, is the reality. We’ve now been to two semi-finals and we are as keen as everybody else to go further.

‘We understand that expectations change. We shouldn’t be afraid of saying we want to go and win. We know there is some improvement for us to do. We’ve started to beat some of the top teams over the last couple of years, we have to do that consistently and if we are to win this tournament the way this draw looks we would have to do that on two or three occasions.

After a strong run to the World Cup semi-finals, England's popularity with the public is high

After a strong run to the World Cup semi-finals, England’s popularity with the public is high

‘As a team we’ve got to make it small steps at a time – qualify from the group, get that nailed with a group where there are three very tough games and opponents. Croatia have beaten us in the recent past, Czech Republic have. We’ve done the same to them and we know what the game with Scotland game means for everybody.

‘So we have to allow everybody to dream, we want to dream ourselves but we’ve got to make sure we won’t just win because we’re at home, we won’t just win because we’re an exciting team, we’ve got to get all the parts right and that’s got to be our aim.”

England’s chances of winning the European Championship for the first time ever are enhanced by a tournament structure that will see them play all their group matches on home soil at Wembley.

Should they progress through the group stages and deep into the tournament, then they could return to Wembley as the venue will hold both semi-finals as well as the final. 

But they face a tough Euro 2020 group stage, playing Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic - the latter beating them during qualifying for this summer's finals (above)

But they face a tough Euro 2020 group stage, playing Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic – the latter beating them during qualifying for this summer’s finals (above)

England though will kick off their preparation for Euro 2020 with two friendlies at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium against Austria on June 2 and Romania four days later.

In a bid to keep the players’ minds fresh, Southgate chose the club he formerly played for and managed as a suitable change of scenery away from St George’s Park – where they will be based for the tournament – instead opting for a few days at the Championship side’s Rockliffe Park training ground during the tournament build up.

Southgate said: ”We basically have three weeks from the last Premier League game to our first group match and the way we’ve worked over the last few years, we’ve always given the players a period of time with their families – I think they need that at the end of the season, psychologically as well as physically.

‘Then we’ll go to the north-east, which is a nice change of environment for us. Really good facilities, good people at Middlesbrough. I know that when that was offered to me as an option, that everything there will be as we would like it.

Should England go all the way this summer, they would play at least five matches at Wembley

Should England go all the way this summer, they would play at least five matches at Wembley

‘It means we also don’t spend too long as St George’s. It’s a great base for us, but also I didn’t necessarily want to be here for 40-50 days.

‘Last summer we were talking about going away for that prep, that’s not possible now, so to be able to take a game to the north-east, where we haven’t been for a few years, is a great opportunity for us.

‘Then we come back to St George’s which we are familiar with, which we can control the facilities, which are first class and there is a feeling we can sort of batten the hatches down, we can have the privacy we need but at the same time maintain the connection with the public through our interviews and our outputs and make sure it’s an environment the players enjoy so that they are able to enjoy their football as well.’

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