Southgate warns misbehaving England stars over their actions ahead of Wales test

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Gareth Southgate has warned his misbehaving England stars they are in danger of becoming masters of their own downfall.

Southgate has been forced to swap his waistcoat for a tin hat in recent months following a string of scandals that have undermined his leadership.

Harry Maguire, who is part of the England 'leadership group', ended up in a Greek courtroom following a drunken brawl with police and was landed with a suspended prison sentence he is now appealing.

Debutants Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were then flown home in shame from Iceland after smuggling women into the team hotel in Reykjavik to break strict Covid-19 protocols.

Then earlier this week three more Covidiots broke Government rules in the shape of Tammy Abraham, Jadon Sancho and Ben Chilwell.

The trio were all blocked from joining the squad at St George's Park after being photographed attending Abraham's 23rd birthday party, contravening Government rules stating no more than six people can mix together at any one time.

The FA launched an investigation and all three will miss Thursday's friendly with Wales at Wembley and could also miss Sunday's Nations League clash with Belgium – depending on their test results.

Southgate's patience is being tested to the absolute limit as he cranks up his preparations for next summer's Euros – and has laid down the law to his squad about their responsibilities when representing England.

The one saving grace is that all this nonsense is not taking place ahead of a major tournament, something Southgate knows cannot happen if England are to end their long wait to win something.

He knows the players' behaviour will decide how much pressure they find themselves under and he said: "When these incidents happen, it takes a lot of time and energy away from the team. We can't afford that.

"When you're going into major tournaments with these sorts of incidents, they can derail you. I've seen that in the past.

"You (the newspapers) are always going to write openly and honestly about performances – and if that's not been good then no-one enjoys reading that about themselves.

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"But we have to accept that. We give opportunities to the areas and types of stories that can grow legs and if we have the types of things like we've had in the last couple of camps then we give opportunity for those sorts of stories to be written.

"So we have to try and give ourselves the best chance to perform. The key is to keep improving the team and part of that is educating the players for them to learn quickly, focusing on what our team culture needs to be and what we are prepared to stand for."

Southgate has found it difficult to focus on football in recent weeks and the clash with Ryan Giggs's men at Wembley should provide him with some much needed relief.

He is expected to name an experimental side and has told his players that the pressure they feel now will be nothing compared to what lies ahead on the eve of the suspended Euro 2020 tournament.

He added: "There is a lot of scrutiny on the team at the moment, but actually, within the camp this week they have been exceptional.

"These things are a process you have to go through as a team and observing how people respond in the difficult times as well as the good times, because it's easy in the good times, you learn even more about people.

"We are not under the same sort of pressure this team faces going into a major tournament at the moment – or when you're on the back of hugely difficult results – we have still been in a good place for a long period of time and the pressure is relative and what we choose to make it.

"We want to keep improving as a team – and my job is to allow the players to be able to go and do that."

  • The FA
  • England Football Team
  • Gareth Southgate
  • Harry Maguire
  • Jadon Sancho
  • Marcus Rashford

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