Third-place game is no practice match, says Southgate

Reuters/Carl Recine

England manager Gareth Southgate said he did not want to make major changes to his team for Sunday’s Nations League third-place game with Switzerland and that the game was a chance to give something back to the country’s disappointed fans.

England lost their semi-final against the Netherlands 3-1 (aet) on Thursday and while the Dutch can look forward to a final with Portugal on Sunday, England are left with the consolation match.

“We lost an important game on Thursday. We’ve got thousands of fans here and we have to make sure our performance is one that gives them something back. Every time we take the field, we are learning things about the players and how we need to improve,” Southgate said on Saturday.

The England manager said he did not want to field a hugely altered side but that injuries would force some adjustments.

“We’ll probably have to make some changes. We’ve got doubts over (Ben) Chilwell, (Marcus) Rashford, (Jordan) Henderson. There’s a few more to check. I don’t want to make wholesale changes,” he said.

“The importance of the match is clear for us and whoever comes in needs to come into a fairly stable line-up.”

Third-place games rarely set the pulse racing but Southgate rejected the notion that the game would be little more than a practice session.

“No England international is a practice match. Every time you wear this shirt, it is of importance for you, the country and the supporters. Individuals have opportunities to impress,” he said.

Switzerland lost their semi-final to the hosts 3-1, with Cristiano Ronaldo sinking their hopes with a fine hat-trick, and Southgate said they would be testing opponents for his side.

“They are very strong at playing from the back, they are a very settled team, very consistent for the last couple of years in terms of selection and method with key players like (Xherdan) Shaqiri and (Granit) Xhaka.”