England will name a ‘very young line-up’ as they look to wrap up Euro 2020 qualification against Montenegro on Thursday. Says boss, Gareth Southgate.
The Three Lions only need one point from their final two qualifiers. Thursday’s game at Wembley is England’s 1,000th senior men’s international.
“The line up against Spain in October 2018 was one of the youngest for decades. I think we are going to be even younger than that.” Said Southgate.
“That has some weaknesses but it has some enormous strengths as well in terms of enthusiasm, energy, and motivation. I think it’s a team that will excite people.” He added.
England beat Spain 3-2 in Seville in the Nations League last October with their youngest starting X1 since 1959. An average of just over 23.
Half of the 24-man squad for the Montenegro and Kosovo games with England playing their final qualifier in Pristina on Sunday are aged 22 or under.
“We are looking forward to the game,” said Southgate. “Not only the opportunity to qualify for a European Championship but the occasion of England’s 1,000th international. This is a very special one for everyone associated with the team, now and in the past.”
“It is great that so many of our former players are coming to be a part of that night. That is very important to all of us and I know for them, it will be something very special. So, we are especially looking forward to seeing them.”
Manchester City forward, Raheem Sterling has been dropped for the Montenegro match after a clash with team-mate Joe Gomez at England’s training camp.
Everton midfielder, Fabian Delph has withdrawn from the squad with a hamstring injury.
England will be at home in at least two group games at Euro 2020.
“It would be really special to play in a major tournament and walking out at Wembley would be something that you dream of.” Said Manchester United defender, Harry Maguire.
“People say it would give us a little advantage as well. So, its something. We know the crowd gets right behind us at Wembley and the support over the last few years especially since I’ve been playing has been unbelievable.” He added.
Southgate, who guided England the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup said, “I think what is exciting over the next five years or so is the youth of this squad.”
“They are gaining experience all the time in big matches and one or two more players still underneath this group-in terms of age-are going to come in and be outstanding players for England.”
“But, of course, you have to deliver and we have had teams with potential and promise forever. These guys went further than nearly all of those teams two years ago.”
“I don’t think we were the most experienced or talented group that we have had in those 30 years by any stretch, but they delivered-and that’s a huge credit to them.”
“Now the challenge is to keep going on and doing that.”