Gareth Southgate says Jadon Sancho lucky to be in England squad

Gareth Southgate admits Jadon Sancho is LUCKY to be in the England squad amid his slow start to life at Man United and only included the winger to avoid causing him more doubts

  • Gareth Southgate considered leaving Jadon Sancho out of his England squad
  • He included the Man United winger to avoid causing him more uncertainty
  • ‘We have invested in Jadon. We believe he can get to a high level,’ said the coach
  • Southgate said he’d like to speak to Sancho about his early season struggles

Gareth Southgate considered leaving Jadon Sancho out of his England squad but included the Manchester United winger to avoid causing him more uncertainty.

While there was a place for Sancho in the 23 who will face Andorra and Hungary, his United colleague Mason Greenwood and Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham were left out after Southgate held talks with their clubs and families.

The manager is conscious of not over-exposing Greenwood, who turns 20 today, and Bellingham and believes this camp is one the pair should miss after a hectic start to the campaign. There were, however, recalls for AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori and Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins.

Gareth Southgate has revealed he considered leaving Jadon Sancho out of the England squad

Sancho has struggled to make an impact since switching to Manchester United this summer

Southgate toyed with leaving out Sancho and recognises his slow start at Old Trafford following a £73million summer move from Dortmund — no goals or assists in eight appearances — does not warrant international selection. But he did not want to add to the player’s concerns.

So Southgate will discuss what has been a challenging period for Sancho when he reports to St George’s Park. The 21-year-old has started only twice for England this year — a friendly against Romania and the Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine — but Southgate retains faith.

‘Does he deserve to be in on these performances over the last few weeks? Well, probably not,’ said Southgate. ‘But we have invested in Jadon over a period of time. We believe he can get to a high level. I’d like time to chat with him and help that process that’s going on at United.

‘For him to feel that we have belief in him, at this point, is a good message. So, again, there is no perfect solution here. You could easily throw another name at me who we have left out in the past and say, “Well, you didn’t deal with them in the same way”.

Sancho got a rare start in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Villarreal in the Champions League

‘We try to individually do the right thing at the right time, send the right message. Sometimes the right message is to leave a player out. Maybe they respond and that’s the right thing but we feel with Jadon it is important to keep him with us.’

Sancho struggled to have an impact in United’s Champions League win against Villarreal on Wednesday and was substituted. What he has shown so far is a pale shadow of his electrifying Dortmund form, but Southgate is not surprised.

‘The Bundesliga is totally different,’ said Southgate. ‘Dortmund is a big club but Manchester United is one of the biggest in the world. There’s a definite adaptation to the league. You’re not going to get anywhere near the goals and assist numbers in our league that you are in the Bundesliga.

‘There are some very good teams but also it’s a good league for young players to develop because there are some teams that aren’t at that level. In our league, every game is intense and tough and he’s probably just starting to realise that.’

Bellingham is benefiting from being in Germany but Southgate wants him to rest.

But the winger was largely ineffective in the game and was taken off by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

He also insisted Greenwood’s time would come soon and admitted picking the United striker for last September’s Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark was wrong.

‘That’s a fair challenge,’ said Southgate, who revealed Brentford’s Ivan Toney is on his radar. ‘We didn’t know as much about Mason then. You are drawn by the quality of the performances and the maturity that you see on the field. So you’d have to say maybe that was a bit early.

‘He’s feeling at the moment that to establish himself at United is a big challenge. I totally understand that.

‘With Jude, we didn’t need to make him travel again. If we give him a rest mentally and physically, it’s better that he is able to do that as an 18-year-old and just relax for a little bit. They don’t come as a pair but they are in similar situations.’

Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham was left out because Southgate wants him to rest 

This England camp should, in theory, be less pressurised than normal because they will beat Andorra a week tomorrow and should follow up comfortably against Hungary at Wembley.

Southgate’s ambition for England is to complete a calendar year unbeaten outside of penalty shootouts.

‘That is the sort of form Belgium have shown over a period of time,’ said Southgate.

‘Belgium have shown how to become strong contenders and that is where we feel we are. Every player in the squad knows there’s huge competition. I think that’s driving some of the performances that we have.’

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