England right-back Reece James joked about his “stupid” teammate persistently winding him up, while Phil Foden hit back at the negativity surrounding Gareth Southgate.
England fell back to earth after their victory over Croatia with a chastening 0-0 draw against Scotland. The result drew criticism from all corners, though nevertheless leaves England in an excellent position to qualify for the Last 16 at Euro 2020.
Several new faces in the squad have breathed new life into the nation’s hopes. Kalvin Phillips excelled in game one, while Jack Grealish gets fans on their feet with every touch.
Another who has set pulses racing is Jude Bellingham, though he is the subject of teammate Reece James’ latest interview for altogether different reasons.
The Chelsea right-back has taken the 17-year-old under his wing in the Three Lions camp for Euro 2020 and the pair have hit it off.
James is four years Bellingham’s senior and has learned to keep his cool.
“He is very young but a very good footballer, I look after him,” James said on the Lion’s Den YouTube page.
“He is still so young but he has a lot to learn so I try and help him where I can.
“He’s always poking me and hitting me, he’s just so stupid and I will turn around and get so close to touching him but I never get around to it.”
Foden slams Southgate critics
The Scotland draw drew the ire of fans across the nation, with most of their displeasure focussed on Southgate.
However, playmaker Foden has rejected claims Southgate is not up to task, claiming negative people “don’t know what they’re talking about.”
“He is a great coach – working with him every day you get to see what he is like,” the Manchester City winger told talkSPORT.
“He always has the players’ backs and I believe that his tactics are great so all these negative people don’t know what they are talking about because Gareth is a great coach.
“I believe in my team-mates. I see us every day in training and how much the creative players create chances.
“It just feels like it is going to come in the next game and we are going to create more so I don’t see it as a concern at all.”