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Southgate reminds England stars that ‘Everest’ isn’t conquered yet ahead of Ukraine quarter finals tie

Gareth Southgate has reminded his England stars that there is still more work to be done, ahead of their quarter-final clash with Ukraine on Saturday evening.

After a comfortable, yet slightly underwhelming group stage display from the Three Lions, they produced arguably their best showing of the tournament to see-off arch-rivals Germany in the last-16, putting an end to their wretched run in competitions against the Germans since 1966.

 

That victory ensured a first knockout win at the European Championship’s since Terry Venables’ side – which included Southgate at centre-back – edged past Spain on penalties at Euro ’96.

That historic win has also served to raise expectations regarding the possibility of winning the tournament, with England seemingly having a favourable route to the final at Wembley, with Denmark or Czech Republic to come should they get past Andriy Shevchenko’s men.

While England will no doubt go into that meeting in Rome as overwhelming favourites, Southgate has insisted that his players aren’t getting ahead of themselves and are fully focused on Saturday’s encounter.

“We have achieved one challenge but that’s not the Everest that we set ourselves — we want to push on,” said the England manager at a press conference.

“I don’t think there is a danger of losing sight of that, although the game the other night was fantastic.

“We have moved on from Germany quickly. The mindset has now got to be about Saturday.

“There’ s not a consideration in our heads beyond making sure we’re prepared for Ukraine.”

According to the Telegraph, the England boss will revert to a back four for the last eight clash, with both Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount in contention for a start following a ‘slight knock’ to impressive teenager Bukayo Saka.

There has also been a suggestion that some players may be rested to avoid them picking up suspensions for the semi-final’s – Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden and Harry Maguire all on a yellow card – although Southgate insisted that it would send the ‘wrong message’ to omit some of his key men at such a crucial stage.

“I understand the strategy of thinking that through, but I don’t think there is a team in the world who would do that at this point,” said Southgate.

“I have never seen it happen and it is not in our thinking. It would be a bad message for our players and it would be the wrong message for Ukraine. I don’t think we can fiddle around. It would be just about thinking about the future and we should not be thinking about the future at this moment.

“We have been to three semi-finals in 60 years, the thought that we can be resting players to get through a semi-final – I can’t think of a nation that would do that. I don’t remember a nation doing that.

“It was different in the group phase when we had qualified and knew what we were dealing with. We could strategically do that.”

Read – Five of England’s most memorable quarter-final games at major tournaments

See also – Euro Classics: England dismantle the Dutch at Euro ’96

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