England v Austria - ‘I have to deliver’ at Euros, admits Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate admits his head will be on the block if England fail to reach the latter stages of the rescheduled European Championship.

England manager Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions boss named his 26-man squad for the finals on Tuesday afternoon as preparations continue to ramp up.

England face Austria in a friendly at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium tonight before welcoming Romania to the same venue on Sunday.

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With a mixture of fitness concerns and club commitments, Southgate is unlikely to have his full squad together until Friday at the earliest.

Middlesbrough's then manager Gareth Southgate (left) and assistant manager Malcolm Crosby.

Preparations have certainly been trickier than they were for the 2018 World Cup, where Southgate guided an unfancied England into the semi-finals.

Now the 50-year-old knows more will be expected of him and his players, especially as a run to the final would see England play all-but one game at Wembley.

Asked if anything less than reaching the semi-finals would be deemed a failure, Southgate replied: “Yeah, it probably will.

“I think we’re realistic about that, we have to live with that expectation. We know the excitement around the team and it’s great, we’re now relevant.

“Expectations were lower (in Russia). We’ve got some exciting players and I don’t think these players are at their peak by any means, I think when I look at some of the players working with us it’s so exciting for England in the future.

“I’ve got to try to manage the expectations for the players, I accept the situation as a manager, there’s expectation, I have to deliver.

“We have to deliver as a group of staff, it’s not about me in terms of if we can be successful. But, of course, it’s about me if we fail. No problem, that’s the gig.

“But for the players, I’ve still got to bear in mind they are a young group, they have still got a lot of progression to make, some are now learning how to win things, being involved in big matches, it’s brilliant for their progress and opportunities for England, that’s what we want.

“Are we ready to win? Well, we’ve been to two semi-finals so the next step is to try to go further.”

Southgate insists he is continuing to improve as a coach as he heads back to Middlesbrough, where he ended his playing career before taking his first steps as a manager in 2006.

“Then I was a 17-year-old apprentice like I was at Crystal Palace and now I’m probably a 23-year-old player,” he said when comparing his development in the dugout to his time as a fledgling footballer.

Jesse Lingard, James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins plus uncapped trio Aaron Ramsdale, Ben Godfrey and Ben White were cut from England’s 26-man Euro squad but all six will stay with the squad for tonight’s friendly against Austria and Sunday’s clash with Romania.

“I spoke to the three more senior players yesterday to explain what was happening,” Southgate said.

“Of course that’s always difficult.

“You know what a big thing it is for a player to go to a major tournament and those three boys have really been valuable members of our squad.

“I gave them all the option if they didn’t want to stay with the group to go home, but they were all adamant (they wanted to stay).

“They value being with England, they want to be part of the squad, they know that we’ve still got two matches to play, which they will be involved in, and if we pick up injuries that group are the ones who are on standby.”

Lingard is set to get the chance to prove Southgate wrong with a starting spot against Austria tonight in the absence of Jadon Sancho, due to illness, and European finalists Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden.

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