'We can't consider ourselves big players' - Southgate on England

'We can't consider ourselves big players' - Southgate on England
From BBC - October 7, 2017

England manager Gareth Southgate says his squad does not contain "big players" because of their lack of success in Europe.

Southgate admits he and the players he will take to next summer's World Cup in Russia still have to prove their credentials at the highest level.

England face Lithuania in Vilnius on Sunday in their final qualifier.

They secured their World Cup place with an uninspiring 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday.

Southgate is set to experiment with a three-man central defence in Vilnius and Stoke City's Jack Butland will get the chance to challenge Joe Hart after he was named in goal.

England's victory against Slovenia drew scorn from the crowd and was greeted by heavy criticism.

"Are they big players until they win?" said Southgate. "We are talking about big players because of transfer fees, because they are playing in the Champions League.

"When we are in semi-finals, finals, winning trophies, then we are big players. Until that point, we have it all to prove.

"I am the same as a coach. I do not disassociate myself from that."

In England's current squad, Gary Cahill and Ryan Bertrand were in Chelsea's starting line-up when they won the 2012 Champions League by beating Bayern Munich, while Hart and Raheem Sterling figured for Manchester City when they lost to Real Madrid in the 2016 semi-final.

Chris Smalling was on the bench for Manchester United's Champions League final loss to Barcelona at Wembley in 2011, played in the quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich in 2014 and was in Jose Mourinho's team when they beat Ajax to win the Europa League last season.

"We ca not consider ourselves big players," said Southgate. "Big players are Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Manuel Neuer. You could go on. That is what big players are.

"We create a bubble in our country around the league because of the money, because of the profile of it, but we have it to prove. No problem - these guys are hungry to prove it."

Butland eager to 'punch ticket to Russia'

Butland, meanwhile, is determined to take his chance when he wins his sixth cap against Lithuania, more than five years after making his debut against Italy in August 2012.

The 24-year-old was out of action for more than a year after sustaining a serious ankle injury during England's 3-2 friendly win against Germany in March 2016.

Do not let Kane in the stadium - Lithuania boss


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