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Euro 2020: Southgate warns England must find balance among attacking talent

Gareth Southgate has admitted it will difficult to accommodate all of England’s in-form attackers and says he must find the right balance at Euro 2020.

Jack Grealish strengthened his case to start against Croatia at Wembley next Sunday with another impressive performance as England beat Romania 1-0 in their second and final warm-up game at the Riverside Stadium.

The Aston Villa playmaker followed his standout display in Wednesday’s win over Austria by winning a second-half penalty, which was converted by captain Marcus Rashford.

Southgate says Grealish has the quality to “turn matches” but Phil Foden and Mason Mount are also pushing for places after fine seasons, while the England manager is likely to select at least one more direct forward from Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

“It’s definitely going to be difficult to fit all of them in!” Southgate said.

“There’s got to be a balance to any team and there’s always a numbers game to be played. In the last couple of games we’ve got four attacking players into the team and different teams have different ways of doing that.

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“Chelsea just won the Champions League playing with three [attackers], really. We’ve got to find the right balance, find the players in form, the players we think are our best players for different games.

“But we’re going to need them all. The players who start game one, there’ll be changes during the game.

“I was talking to someone outside about [World Cup] 1998. I’m pretty certain David Beckham didn’t start the first game, I know Michael Owen didn’t and by the end of the tournament Michael Owen was a world superstar.

“Those changes happen. We need changes from the bench and we’re fortunate to have players who can do that now.

“We’ve seen with Jack in the two games that he has those moments where he can really turn matches,” Southgate added.

“He obviously did that from the left in this instance so it’s been very useful for him to get match minutes under his belt, get a bit closer to full match sharpness and that’s been valuable for several of the players.”

The match was overshadowed by boos from sections of the crowd when the players took the knee before kick-off and Southgate, who insisted pre-match the squad would continue with the anti-discrimination gesture, said the camp was prepared for the reaction.

“Sadly, I expected what happened to happen,” he said. “We expected that as a group and it’s not going to stop what we’re doing and what we believe.

“It’s certainly not going to stop my support for our players and our staff. That’s it. We’re going to have to live with that. We’ve said what we’re going to say and moving forward it’s pointless me going into any further detail.”

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James Ward-Prowse strengthened his case to to take injured Trent Alexander-Arnold’s place in the squad with an impressive display, including two superb free-kicks to create chances for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The Southampton midfielder’s hopes are enhanced by Jordan Henderson’s lack of match fitness, although the Liverpool captain made his first appearance since February as a half-time substitute, missing a second penalty after Calvert-Lewin was fouled.

“Prowsey’s professionalism and approach all week, given the disappointment of being left out, has been absolutely first class. The decision won’t necessarily be about the performances today as such,” Southgate said. “It’s going to be positional really, and the area we might need the most cover.

“We know the situation Hendo is in,” he added.

“He’s been a very positive influence around the camp, with the group. It was a step forward for him physically today, which was important in order for him to play some part in the tournament and we’re realistic about what that could be.

“With the penalties we’re very diligent about the way we practice them, I didn’t expect what happened to happen and I would’t expect that to happen again.”

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