Gareth Southgate rips into front three as Jack Grealish sweats on England place

Southgate’s biggest decisions this week will be whether to start Grealish and who plays in the forward positions with Harry Kane, and who plays in the centre of defence – whether it be a back three or a back four – although the England manager claimed he is only unsure of one position.

“There’s probably one decision in my head,” said Southgate. “But we’ve got another week to get through. Every time over the last three months I’ve pieced a squad together or a team, that’s changed rapidly and, you know, painfully with injuries. So, let’s hope we can get through to next Sunday without losing any more players.

“As a coaching staff, we are constantly looking at the players and looking at the opponent. Because the best team for the game with Croatia may not be the best team for the game with Scotland. We have to make sure we get those calls right. 

“Of course, myself and Steve [Holland] have monitored these players so closely for 12 months so although we learn from these [warm-up] games, there are also things in those matches that we have seen over a longer period of time. So we are not surprised by things. These matches confirm things for us. 

“I go away and, of course, have my individual thoughts, but all of my coaches are the same and we come together and discuss those things and thrash them around and test the robustness of any decisions we are deciding on.”

One player who does not need to be fearful of his place is captain Harry Kane, who believes England have a stronger squad for this tournament than the one that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018.

“We’re probably in a better place,” Kane told the official England podcast. “Going into that World Cup we maybe weren’t sure where we were as a team, but we performed really well and stepped up to the occasion. I feel like now we’ve had a bit more experience, players in the biggest games for their club and obviously players who have played in that World Cup have had that experience as well.

“I feel like we are in a good place. We know there is still a lot of hard work that goes into it. We don’t just turn up and win the tournament. We haven’t won a tournament as a country for a long time, so there needs to be a lot of good mentality along the whole way as it is a long, tough journey to get to the later stages of a major tournament.”