Southgate takes heart from England's strength in depth

Gareth Southgate (Getty)
Gareth Southgate (Getty)

London - Gareth Southgate said on Friday that England's strength in depth has given him a welcome headache as he plots a path to Euro 2020.

Southgate's side can take another step towards next year's tournament when they host Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday.

After reaching last year's World Cup semi-finals, then making it to the Nations League last four in the summer, England are on the up and Southgate believes the increased competition in his squad has been a key factor.

"The competition for places is a great thing for us. As a coach, that's an enjoyable problem to have," Southgate said.

England have started their Group A qualifying campaign with two successive wins and will be looking to build on that against Bulgaria and then Kosovo on Tuesday.

But Southgate warned his players not to rest on their laurels after their recent impressive form.

"I think there are a number of teams who equally on their day, as was proved in the summer, are able to beat us as well," Southgate said.

"We have to strive to keep winning and keep pushing each other each day in training and if we do that, we'll take those performances onto the field."

Earlier this week, Chris Powell was appointed to the England set-up as part of the Football Association's scheme to encourage ethnic minority coaches.

And Southgate welcomed the move to add the former Huddersfield and Charlton manager to his staff.

"We're trying to be at the forefront of giving opportunities to coaches from minority ethnic groups and Chris is a good example of someone who's fully qualified," he said.

"He has good experience as a manager and obviously experience of international football, he has actually worked with some of the players in our squad when he was a club manager.

"So, I'm hoping it's going to be a brilliant insight for him into how we work.

"He'll be able to bring qualities we don't have within our coaching team.

"We hope to create role models that young people can aspire to.

"That they can see there is opportunity. That they can see that some of the barriers that they feel have been there, have been broken down. We think that's a very strong and important message."

England midfielder Jesse Lingard missed Friday's training session at St George's Park due to a minor illness.

The Manchester United player had been kept away from the rest of the team as a precaution, but is still hopeful of being available for selection for the Bulgaria match.

A back problem has already ruled out Lingard's United team-mate Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

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