England vs Slovenia: Upset big names and pick on form over reputation, says Gary Neville | Football News

Gary Neville has called on Gareth Southgate to focus on form over reputation for England’s Group C game with Slovenia and says the Three Lions boss has to “upset some of the big names”.

England are top of their group and a draw in their final pool game against Slovenia on Tuesday will secure a place in the knockouts. But Thursday’s dire draw with Denmark has raised serious concerns about their prospects at this tournament, with the team’s balance, set-up and fitness all worries.

Neville says the “embarrassment of riches” Southgate has to choose from in attack has given him a dilemma – and that England’s situation has echoes of tournaments from years gone by when they struggled to find the best way to use their top players.

“The warning signs and problems England have had in tournaments when it’s not gone as well are appearing here,” he told Sky Sports News. “That’s why I’m more concerned.

“For the first time we’re asking the questions: ‘how do you get him in, where do you play him?’ Gareth has never really had that in the last four or five years. He’s never had it with this talent of player. It’s an embarrassment of riches.”

England's attacking players have dropped deeper
England’s attacking players have dropped deeper

Here’s how Neville would approach the team selection for the game with Slovenia…

“What I’d like to see on Tuesday is for us to somehow forget about reputation, forget about talent and pick a team that’s balanced, that can go out there in good form and fitness.

“There are a couple of them playing at the moment who don’t look sharp. Get the best players out there in respect of the team rather than individuals. Gareth has always done that really well. He’s probably been the best at it in the last 60-70 years. He’s ignored whether you play for Aston Villa or Man Utd or Man City or Southampton. He’s picked you based on what you do. He’s proven that with this squad.

“I think he’s going to have to upset some of the big names. That started [against Denmark] by him taking off three big names all at once in Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Harry Kane. That was a big move. That was him standing on the touchline, speaking to [his assistant] Steve Holland saying: ‘I need to do something to interfere because this is not right and I need to change it’.

“I think those changes will move into Tuesday.

“Luke Shaw, if he is semi-fit, we have to try to get him in at left-back because of the balance – not because Kieran Trippier is playing badly. I don’t know if he is fit.

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Rob Dorsett delivers his verdict on England’s 1-1 draw with Denmark and believes there are real concerns for Gareth Southgate after another underwhelming performance at Euro 2024

“We have to change the midfield. I really like Conor Gallagher. But actually I think the role Gallagher has been brought in to do is the role Declan Rice plays best, where he can run onto the game and press high. Gallagher does that really well. He dispossesses people high up the pitch. But I’d like to see Kobbie Mainoo or Adam Wharton come in, probably play a little bit deeper and let Rice be that one who can maraud forward – he’s also got the power and strength to get back in.

“Jude Bellingham will obviously stay in the team. The big question mark is around Phil Foden. There is something inside me that feels very uncomfortable leaving Foden out of an England team. If we can’t make Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold international football players for England then we have a real problem. Other nations wouldn’t do that and we would regret it in years to come.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's stats vs Denmark
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s stats vs Denmark

“I don’t know if there’s a change of system to get them all in – three at the back to get Alexander-Arnold in at right wing-back? Do something quite stark, which allows you to have a little less protection in midfield because you have three at the back and Rice in front with Mainoo? We did that in the Euros against Italy.

“It takes me back to 2004 when we had Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham and we were trying to squeeze them in with balance. It was impossible. You’d end up with a situation where you play one of them out of position or do you upset one of them? That’s where Gareth is going to be.

Harry Kane's touches in the Serbia and Denmark games
Harry Kane’s touches in the Serbia and Denmark games

“Harry Kane is an automatic starter. For Gareth it would be a huge call [not to start him]. Taking him off was a huge call. I think the only time he’s ever done that in a meaningful game was against Scotland in the Euros at Wembley – it’s unusual to take him off when we need a goal. Leaving him on the bench is going to a different level. I don’t think that would happen.”

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