Gareth Southgate welcomes England players’ half-time inquest

Gareth Southgate welcomed a shot of half-time player power from his England side after a dressing room debrief helped turn the tide against Switzerland.

A Three Lions side showing nine changes from the team beaten in Saturday’s Nations League opener against Spain turned in a sloppy 45 minutes in their friendly at the King Power Stadium but reached the interval level after Xherdan Shaqiri hit a post.

Rather than wait for Southgate’s analysis the side immediately began their own critique of proceedings and, though details of the conversation were sparse, it seems likely a few hard words were shared.

Within nine minutes of the restart Marcus Rashford had volleyed home Kyle Walker’s cross, sealing a 1-0 win and ending a three-game losing streak which began in the World Cup semi-finals.

Southgate said: “I wasn’t in there at that moment because we always give them the first three or four minutes to themselves. We always encourage them to have a voice.

“They were frustrated the first half. It’s important they feel close enough that they can get on to each other.

“We have to make sure that doesn’t boil over but it was quite calm by the time we got in there.

“That’s a good sign there’s some leadership in the group. They recognise when they want to be better.

England struggled in the first 45 minutes
England struggled in the first 45 minutes (Nick Potts/PA)

“Today they were harsh on themselves.”

The view from the camp was equally welcoming of the lively mid-match debate.

Man-of-the-match Danny Rose told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We could have been two or three nil down at half-time. It’s great we can all shout at each other and tell each other to improve like we did.

“In the end, we are over the moon to keep a clean sheet and get back to winning ways.”

Harry Maguire, who received a warm welcome on home turf, also revealed that Southgate had not quite played the passive observer.

“The gaffer had a stern word with us,” he told Sky Sports. “There were a few words spoken between the boys at half-time.”

By full-time the picture was brighter, with hugs and handshakes greeting the result.

Rashford took the lion’s share of the praise, having won the match for his side with his second goal in four days following his opening strike against Spain.

The Manchester United forward played second fiddle to the absent Raheem Sterling in Russia and is not guaranteed a starting spot at Old Trafford, but has reinforced his credentials as a game-breaker at international level this week.

“We were very keen that he had the opportunity, we were determined to give him some match minutes,” said Southgate.

“He’s a big part of our future. We think he’s a fantastic talent with a great mentality. We’ve really talked to him a lot about being in the penalty box more, higher up the pitch – and both of his goals have come in those areas.

“We know he can score spectacular goals from long range, but you’ll be limited in numbers if that’s where your goals are coming from.

“His work for the team was fantastic and he’ll feel very confident going into the games coming up. He misses the next few, which is why he started again. A real breakthrough for him.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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