England manager Gareth Southgate has suggested international experience is behind the lack of minutes afforded to winger Jadon Sancho so far at Euro 2020.
The Borussia Dortmund star did not even make the matchday squad for the 1-0 win over Croatia and remained on the bench for the goalless draw with Scotland, despite England being in desperate need of some creativity in that game.
When asked specifically about Sancho’s chances of featuring in the final group game against the Czech Republic, Southgate responded (via Sky Sports News): “We’ve got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time.
“So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals. Jadon is in that mix. He’s trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make.”
While it’s obviously true that Sancho is relatively new to international football, you’d have thought that his reputation at club level might be enough to earn himself one measly minute for England. After all, this is a player who has 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 appearance for Dortmund and even comes with three years of European experience in the Champions League.
Instead, Southgate seems happy to hand minutes to other players like Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish… all of whom have never played at a major international tournament before either (and none of them have as many caps as Sancho either).
In fact, of the 13 players who featured against Scotland, eight are at their first major tournament, with Jordan Pickford, John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane the only players to have turned out on the biggest stage before.
Most of those big names all joined up with the England squad this summer without playing any warm-up friendlies, and Southgate suggested that was the main reason for his side’s struggles so far.
“I think a lot of those players we didn’t have for the friendlies, so the chemistry is something we didn’t have a lot of opportunity to work on,” Southgate added. “We’ve got to just keep working on that. We know there are some very good players in there, we know they can perform better than they did (against Scotland) and we’ve got to help them to find that level.
“The important thing is that everyone gets behind the team and the players and they’re going to need to feel that support and to feel that warmth.
“This is a relatively inexperienced group, I think the third least caps in the tournament. Against Scotland, it was a young team so that’s a different experience for a lot of them than they’ve ever faced before.”