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Declan Rice hints at reason for Gareth Southgate snubbing Kobbie Mainoo for Conor Gallagher for England clash



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Credit: ITV

Declan Rice has explained what he thinks England will improve in their next game and it hints towards the reason why Kobbie Mainoo will not be starting.

England have four points out of six as they prepare for their final group stage fixture at Euro 2024 against Slovenia.

However, the football that Gareth Southgate’s side have produced so far is worrying and, for the first time in many tournaments, it’s clear that the manager does not know his best team.

After experimenting with Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield, it seemed like he would finally come to his senses and put Manchester United star Kobbie Mainoo in the team, or even Adam Wharton, who has excelled at Crystal Palace.

The latest reports from David Ornstein instead state that Southgate is planning to swap the Liverpool right-back out for Conor Gallagher.

It is a decision that will baffle many supporters, particularly those who watched Mainoo last term at Old Trafford, but Declan Rice has seemingly explained the reason why Southgate is going for this approach.

What Declan Rice said

Speaking to ITV ahead of England’s final group game, the Arsenal midfielder defended Southgate’s tactical approach in the opening fixtures, particularly in terms of their defensive play.

Although the defensive midfielder did admit that there have been adjustments in training this week.

“I think in our low block, tactically, we’ve been unbelievable,” he stated. “I think defensively, we’ve conceded the least shots on goal, I’ve read, or something like that.

“Steve Holland was saying something about that. We’ve got the best defensive record here at the minute in terms of stopping crosses, defending balls into the box, being compact and solid. It’s about doing that higher up the pitch, and that’s what I’ve played in with England for such a long time.

“So I get why people are obviously talking about us being tactically off it. There have been a few tweaks and stuff in training that we’ve been working on, and it’s felt I’m feeling so much better. And I’m sure you’re going to see that in the game as well.”

When asked one of the aspects he’s confident will improve, Rice said: “I think the one thing everyone’s talking about is our high press and talking about us off the ball.

“I think you’re going to see a team that is more front foot, is more in your face. We’re not going to let an opposition team play with the ball as much. And we’re going to prove to people we do have that side to our game.”

Southgate’s focus

It’s clear that Southgate’s focus going into the next game is to be even better out of possession, and that’s why he’s bringing in a workhorse midfielder like Gallagher.

Many fans and pundits have instead been critical of England’s poor possession game, particularly in the centre of midfield, after putting Trent Alexander Arnold, a right-back, next to Rice.

England have tried and failed with workhorse midfielders in recent years, and now Southgate appears to be wary of moving forward and trying to bring in a midfielder to help him dominate the ball.

Both Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton are sitting there wondering what they will have to do to get into this team. And it might be too late for England when Southgate realises that.

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