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Home Sport Football

Gareth Southgate unlikely to spring World Cup squad surprise

The England boss has blooded a host of youngsters since taking the job.

England manager Gareth Southgate is not expecting any new faces to gatecrash his World Cup squad.

Southgate will name the 23 men who will carry the nation’s hopes to Russia next month and he has all but ruled out springing a late surprise in the mould of Theo Walcott in 2006 or Marcus Rashford at Euro 2016.

The former Middlesbrough boss has already spread his net far and wide since taking the job, capping 46 players and handing out 16 debuts, and is close to finalising those who will travel for his first major tournament as senior coach.

“We have an incredibly young squad and I don’t know any more will come into that over the next couple of months,” he told Press Association Sport at the Under-17 European Championship draw at St George’s Park.

“We’ve got to remember we already have a lot of young players – we’re talking about guys who made debuts in the last couple of games – and when you look at the likes of Raheem Sterling, Eric Dier and John Stones they’re only 24.

“The likes of Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli, 20-21.

“I’m not sure we can keep blooding new players at the rate we are. There are some very good players underneath (the senior squad) that are still developing so it’s not impossible, but we’ve got to get the balance right.

“Some of our experienced players are very important to us as well.”

Southgate declared himself happy with the trajectory and atmosphere around the side as the countdown to Russia ticks ever closer.

Since securing qualification from a straightforward group he has overseen draws against Germany, Brazil and Italy as well as a victory over Holland – seeing several less seasoned performers acquit themselves well against high calibre opposition.

“We’re pleased that everyone can see the way we’re trying to play as a team,” he said.

“We’re still improving, we’re still work in progress because we’ve not been working together very long but I think everyone can see what we’re trying to do.

“There’s more enthusiasm for the performances and I think we’ve all enjoyed it more as a group of staff and as a group of players as well.”

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