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Gareth Southgate: 'Starting spots are up for grabs'

Gareth Southgate: 'Starting spots are up for grabs'
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Gareth Southgate's side will be in action again at Wembley on Tuesday.

Gareth Southgate says starting spots are up for grabs as England begin preparations for next week's tough-looking Euro 2020 last-16 tie at Wembley.

The Three Lions won a European Championship group for just the third time as 1-0 victories over Croatia and the Czech Republic bookended the drab 0-0 draw with Scotland.

The reward is a round-of-16 meeting under the arch on Tuesday, which not only removes logistical headaches but allows England to call upon a partisan home crowd for a knockout clash which is set to be far from straightforward.

Jack Grealish (left) impressed against the Czech Republic
Jack Grealish (left) impressed against the Czech Republic (Mike Egerton/PA).

France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary are the possible opponents and Southgate will watch the conclusion of the so-called group of death with an open mind about his selection.

Asked if he knew his ideal starting line-up in the last-16 against the Group F runners-up, Southgate said: "For the last 12 months whenever I've written a team sheet down anything more than two days before a game it's changed, so at the moment, no.

"We'll watch the matches (on Wednesday), we'll see how everybody is once we get back to St George's and through the next couple of days of recovery and we'll go from there.

"I think what's clear is that there are some areas of the team that we've been able to build closer to what we think is full strength as the last sort of four weeks or so has gone on.

"Players have arrived late from European finals or (we've) been unable to get them on the pitch following injury or lacked fitness and I've always felt that we were going to have to grow into this tournament in terms of selection. That's why the squad has been so important."

Southgate called England's group win a "real collective performance" given a challenging backdrop that continued this week when Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced into isolation.

Scotland's Billy Gilmour tested positive for coronavirus following Friday's match and the Chelsea duo were identified as contacts, much to the confusion and frustration of those around the England camp.

Given that issue, it was no surprise to see an England employee go over to Declan Rice and hand out masks as he spoke to West Ham team-mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal after the Czech Republic game on Tuesday.

Declan Rice (left) speaks with West Ham team-mates Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek
Declan Rice (left) speaks with West Ham team-mates Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek (Mike Egerton/PA).

"I think that we've been incredibly vigilant throughout, really, so it's been a real anomaly what's happened with the two boys," Southgate said.

"But because of what's happened we've had to speak to the players again just to remind them, but frankly our protocols meant we've not come unstuck in the past.

"How we've come unstuck and others haven't is beyond comprehension for me, really.

"Just because there's some evidence of ours and yet clearly the situation with others has been a higher risk in terms of passing the virus on, so it feels particularly harsh for our two players.

"It's not helpful for us as a team, but devastating for the two boys that they're in a major championship and they've had to miss out on a big part of it in this way."

Southgate expects Mount and Chilwell to be the only missing parts as he starts a pivotal – and all too rare – stretch of training with the group as England look to kick on and enjoy a summer to remember.

"The first thing is it's great to have a couple of days to be able to recover the players because a few of them have had quite a heavy load in the last week or so at the end of a very long season," he said.

"We've got make sure that we don't overdo the work on the training ground.

"The difference for the next game compared to (Tuesday) morning (is) we wanted to change the way we were defending and we couldn't get on to a training pitch to do it.

"We had to do it in team meetings, really, so huge credit to the players for adapting without the ball the way they did.

"Of course you always want training time. It's the thing we don't have as international managers and we've had hardly any of it with the full group because of the complications at the start of our training camp.

"It will be nice to have it looks like everybody available bar the two lads who are isolating and that time, once we know who our opposition are, will definitely be helpful."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina23141350
United StatesUnited States20231659
JapanJapan175931
AustraliaAustralia1431431
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
EFL Cup
Scottish Premiership
Pre-Season Friendlies
Trophee des Champions
Taca da Liga
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
2.Bundesliga
Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Tables

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