Gareth Southgate EXCLUSIVE: England manager distances himself from talk on whether John Stones will start

Gareth Southgate suggested he will make changes for England’s Nations League third place play-off against Switzerland on Sunday.

However, the Three Lions boss distanced himself from talking about whether John Stones would start following the defender’s nightmare display in their semi-final defeat to the Netherlands.

Stones had a night to forget in Guimares

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Stones had a night to forget in Guimares

England lost 3-1 after extra-time, with two of the Oranje’s goals coming through costly errors by England – Stones having an involvement in both.

Stones also lost Matthijs de Ligt for the Netherlands’ equalising goal in normal time as the Ajax man powered home a corner from the right.

talkSPORT’s Tony Cascarino launched a scathing criticism of Stones’ display, especially for the second goal scored by the Dutch which saw the Manchester City man dispossessed on the edge of his own box by Memphis Depay before the ball eventually went in off Kyle Walker.

Speaking on Weekend Sports Breakfast, Cascarino said: “The biggest problem I had with him [Stones] was trying to nutmeg a Holland player in his own 18-yard box.

Stones lost the ball on the edge of his own box which led to the Netherlands’ second goal

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Stones lost the ball on the edge of his own box which led to the Netherlands’ second goal

“You’re not Bobby Moore and you’re not Franz Beckenbauer. They were the top footballing defenders at playing out from the back over the last few decades. Ronald Koeman could do it.

“If you’re going to decide to try and nutmeg someone in your own 18-yard box, that’s being negligent.”

But Southgate kept his cards close to his chest regarding Stones’ selection but suggested there would be changes made for the Switzerland game – which you can listen to LIVE on talkSPORT.


talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here’s what’s coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2…

  • Switzerland vs England (Sunday, 2pm) – talkSPORT
  • England Women vs Scotland Women (Sunday, 5pm) – talkSPORT
  • Portugal vs Netherlands (Sunday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT

Southgate told talkSPORT’s Nigel Adderley: “I’m not looking at tomorrow just in terms of John’s selection. I’m looking at who’s in the best shape to go again and get us the result we want and more importantly the performance.

“I’ve got to assess everybody, it’s a quick turnaround from the game on Thursday night. I’ll go through the same process as with everybody.

“It’s not a game where we’re going to make 11 changes. I think when you’re playing for England there are moments when you can do that and there are moments when keeping stability and continuity and getting a good performance is upper most in your mind.

The England manager went on to admit that he and his players are still hurting from the defeat to the Dutch but insisted that his players will be focused on putting in a good performance against the Swiss, who caused them problems in an international friendly last September.

He added: “Whatever happens tomorrow we’ll leave the tournament with the disappointment of not getting through the semi-final.

“But for sure we want to give a performance that redresses that a little bit and is a statement of our mentality and our desire to keep improving.

“They [Switzerland] had excellent performances against Belgium to get here. The other night they just hit Ronaldo in the sort of form we know he can produce.

“They’ve got some really good technicians and they caused us some problems at Leicester in September but we’ve got to be right to win the game.”

Southgate is looking to end England’s Nations League campaign on a high

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Southgate is looking to end England’s Nations League campaign on a high