Gareth Southgate says England have “a couple of options” to fill in as a left-back during the Euro 2024 qualifier against North Macedonia on Monday.
Kieran Trippier’s withdrawal from the squad due to a “personal matter”, in addition to long-term injuries to Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell meant that AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori deputised as a make-shift left-back during the 2-0 victory over Malta earlier this week.
However, the England manager is confident in his side’s ability to adapt and find a solution in the left full-back position ahead of Monday’s game.
The 53-year-old said: “We have to adapt. We have got a couple of different options and we are comfortable with it. We can find a good solution to the issue.
“We haven’t got someone who is playing there regularly at the moment. We’ve adapted to situations before and we are comfortable doing that again tomorrow.”
An early own goal from Enrico Pepe as well as a 75th minute goal from Harry Kane sealed a 2-0 victory for England at Wembley earlier this week.
Southgate admitted that his side were not at the desired standard during the victory, and will be looking for a better showing against North Macedonia as well as hinting at other players in the squad getting an opportunity at the Tose Proeski Arena on Monday.
He said: “We were not at the level of performance that we want on Friday (against Malta). All focus is on tomorrow’s game (against North Macedonia). We play a team who have tremendous pride.
“The performance is the priority. We have set ourselves a standard and we did not reach that standard on Friday. We have to get back to what we are good at.
“There is always a chance within that to have a look at a couple of things that we would like to see. The biggest thing is making sure that we live the level of performance that we have set ourselves.”
England, who have already secured Euro 2024 qualification, will also be without Jarrod Bowen for Monday’s game. The West Ham United forward did not travel with the squad due to an injury.
Southgate said of the 26-year-old: “Unfortunately Jarrod picked up an injury. We don’t think it’s going to be anything serious, but we wouldn’t take a risk in that situation.”
Elsewhere in Group C, Italy beat North Macedonia 5-2 at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday to move ahead of Ukraine and into second place. The two sides are level on points and play each other on Monday to determine the final qualifier from this group.
The North Macedonia goalkeeper who stopped Bellingham – next up, England
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