MX23RW : Saturday, February 23 19:48:54

Gareth Southgate: 'Rotating England squad was right decision'

Southgate: 'Rotating squad was right decision'
© Reuters
Gareth Southgate is happy with his decision to make eight changes to England's starting lineup for the 1-0 defeat to Belgium on Thursday night.

England manager Gareth Southgate has defended his decision to heavily rotate his side for Thursday night's 1-0 World Cup group defeat to Belgium.

The Three Lions made eight changes for the match at the Kaliningrad Stadium, which was effectively a straight shootout for top spot in Group G.

Seven players were given their first starts of the tournament, with Southgate keen to keep his core players fit for the knockout rounds.

Defeat to Belgium ended England's 12-match unbeaten run, though, and there are fears that the momentum that has been steadily building may have been halted.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Southgate insisted that he made the "right decision" in omitting key men such as Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and the fit-again Dele Alli.

"Whatever happens next week [in the knockout rounds], that was the right decision as far as I'm concerned," he said. "People will say that will only be the right decision if we win but it was the right decision because we could potentially be going into another match that could go into extra time and risking players we didn't need to risk.

"This was a game we wanted to win but the knockout is the biggest game for a decade for us, and we had to make sure our key players were preserved. You have to look at the bigger picture sometimes and make decisions which, in some quarters, might be criticised. But everyone understands - in the dressing room and in the group - what we're trying to do.

"We don't like losing and don't want to lose matches, but the primary objective from the evening we've got. And if we'd put Harry on for 10 minutes and someone had raked his ankle, that would have been ridiculous. The knockout game is the important one. Of course we have a responsibility to the supporters, and the support in the stadium was absolutely outstanding tonight. The support and encouragement from home has been brilliant.

"But when you're a leader and a manager, you have to make decisions which are right for your group to achieve the primary objective. Sometimes those decisions will be criticised. I understand that. But only one person makes that decision with all the full facts and managing a tournament in mind: physically, medically, tactically for the benefit of the group. I'm entirely comfortable with the decision. Sometimes you have to make decisions for the bigger picture."

England now know that they will face Colombia in the first knockout round next Tuesday, while Switzerland or Sweden potentially await in the last eight.


Click here for more stories about Gareth Southgate

Click here for more stories about England

Share this article now:
England midfielder Jordan Henderson in action during his side's international friendly with Spain at Wembley on November 15, 2016
Read Next:
Henderson: 'We want to keep up momentum'
>

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Premier League
Championship
Scottish Premiership
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Primeira Liga
Eredivisie
League One
League Two
National League
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Turkish Super Lig
Greek Superleague
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Segunda Division
Serie B
2.Bundesliga
Argentine Primera Division
Liga MX
Uruguayan Primera Division
NIFL Premiership
Welsh Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Australian A-League
Indian I-League
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs27200755272860
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Watford2711793935440
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2711793534140
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham27106113540-536
10Bournemouth27104133848-1034
11Everton2796123639-333
12Leicester CityLeicester2795133237-532
13Crystal Palace2786133035-530
14Burnley2786133148-1730
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2777132434-1028
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
17Cardiff CityCardiff2774162552-2725
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2745182661-3517
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2725201450-3611

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Login, I already have my ad-free pass
Log in to customise Sports Mole
Buy ad-free access (show me the options)
Buy monthly ad-free access for £1.20/month
Buy yearly ad-free access for £12 (2 months free)
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
Settings - Logout - Manage your account