Belfast Telegraph

Gareth Southgate downplays tactical significance of training ground photo

Steve Holland was pictured holding a note that showed the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation again this Sunday.

England manager Gareth Southgate has questioned whether the media was right to publish pictures of apparent team line-up plans for the Panama game – but insisted it was “no drama”.

A photographer captured a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland in training that looked to give away England’s intentions ahead of the second Group G match in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday.

The Three Lions boss, who suffered a dislocated shoulder while out running earlier this week, played down the tactical significance of the information which was revealed.

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England manager Gareth Southgate, right, and assistant Steve Holland will be aiming to pick another winning side (Mike Egerton/PA)

The England manager said on talkSPORT: “It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It is a squad of 23 names on the sheet, the next sheet has different players in different positions because we swap people in and swap people out. The stories are then run as they are. For me, no drama.

“Obviously any time, if we were to give the opposition the opportunity of having our team it’s a disadvantage to us. So of course our media has to decide whether they want to help the team or not.

“Given that was just a squad list, it doesn’t make any difference to us really.”

Defender Kyle Walker was also asked about the leaked note – and, like Southgate, urged the media to keep any information to themselves in order to help the national team.

After revealing the players had not been told the starting XI a couple of days in advance, as had been the case for the opening game against Tunisia, the Manchester City right-back asked the press to do the “polite” thing.

Walker said: “I think if you guys try to keep it to yourself and don’t bring it out to the world, because it’s not going to help us come the later stages of the tournament, please God we get there. All the rest of the world’s seen our team now, if that is the team or if not…

“As I say, you guys have to do your little bit, so if you could just please help us with that it would be polite.”

Walker said Holland had apologised to the squad at Friday’s training session for allowing the picture to be taken.

“He’s apologised to us all in training, which we had a bit of banter with him about, and that was it – we knocked it on the head at that,” the defender added.

Walker, who conceded a penalty in England’s 2-1 opening Group G win over Tunisia, was asked if the players had been told of the starting line-up to face Panama.

“No. We don’t have a clue,” the 28-year-old said.

“Obviously before, he (Southgate) did give us a couple of days as to who’s playing or not, but he’s going to do it tomorrow so we’ll find out tomorrow.”

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