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Gary Neville: 'Gareth Southgate is England's biggest asset'

Neville: 'Gareth Southgate is England's biggest asset'
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Former England international Gary Neville claims that manager Gareth Southgate is England's biggest asset following the national side's opening victory in Euro 2020.

Former England full-back Gary Neville has claimed that manager Gareth Southgate is England's "biggest asset", following their Euro 2020 opening victory against Croatia.

Raheem Sterling scored his first goal at a major international tournament on Sunday to earn Southgate's side three points against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia in the first game of Group D.

Southgate opted to play right-back Kieran Trippier at left-back ahead of Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell on Sunday, which surprised Neville, who praised Southgate for making the "unpopular decisions".

Speaking to ITV, Neville said: "I was shocked by the inclusion of Trippier at left-back. But I have to say, it wasn't in a doubting way because I don't doubt the manager. We have an outstanding international manager who has unbelievable experience.

"I don't think there is one person in our population of 65m who would have picked that team today. There were a lot of things today that I would have said historically went against England: a two o'clock kick-off, the heat, a team that passed us off the park in the last tournament, the best defender going into the game, and not playing his best team going into the game.

"But I thought he managed the game unbelievably. We can talk about [Kalvin] Phillips or Sterling being our best player, but our biggest asset is our manager.

"The clamour in past years would have been to go for [Jack] Grealish. But Southgate hasn't even brought him off the bench. He is willing to make the unpopular decisions and the decisions that some of us at times don't think he should make. But he knows that group better than anyone and he knows how to get a performance and a result better than anyone.

"He is vastly experienced and, as an England fan, l feel very comfortable with him. What he did today was really good."

England's next fixture in Euro 2020 comes on Friday when they face rivals Scotland at Wembley.

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England manager Gareth Southgate applauds fans after the match on June 6, 2021
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Thursday's key events

· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
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· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

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· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

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