England vs Czech - Southgate considering starting Sancho or Hudson-Odoi



Posted Friday, March 22, 2019 by PA

England vs Czech - Southgate considering starting Sancho or Hudson-Odoi

England manager Gareth Southgate would have no hesitation unleashing teenagers Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi against the Czech Republic.

There is a chance for one of the 18-year-old wingers to start at Wembley after Marcus Rashford, due to an ankle injury, became the sixth player to withdraw from Southgate’s squad.

The inaugural Nations League Finals are looming large this summer, but first comes a key Euro 2020 qualification double-header that the Three Lions approach without a string of first-team players.

John Stones, Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Luke Shaw all pulled out of the squad at the start of the week, with Trent Alexander-Arnold following suit on Wednesday due to a back injury.

In-form Manchester United forward Rashford’s withdrawal has now compounded those problems, with an ankle injury seeing him withdraw from the squad on the eve of the Czech Republic clash.

“Well, he’s been with our medical team all week,” Southgate said.

“We’ve tried to progress his training through the week, so he did some running with them but it’s clear to us that he’s not ready for our matches.

“We’re going to send him back to the club and he’s out of the two games.”

The absentees leave England looking light, with Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse and highly-rated Chelsea teenager Hudson-Odoi the only fresh faces brought into a squad that has dropped from 25 players to 21.

“We knew from a couple of days ago that Marcus wouldn’t be ready for tomorrow, so it’s a great opportunity for the others because they’ve been exceptional in training – they look like they’ve been with us forever,” Southgate said.

“So, we’re really excited. I think we’ve lost a lot of players but it’s an opportunity for others, and when you look at the level of training and the way the team has prepared, they’ve been excellent, so we’re really looking forward to seeing the team play.”

Sancho has won three caps and is pushing for his first competitive start, while fellow Under-17 World Cup winner Hudson-Odoi is in line for his England debut despite having yet to make a Prmeier League start.

It looks a straight shootout between the pair to start, with Sancho surely ahead of fellow 18-year-old Hudson-Odoi.

“It’s difficult to say really because throughout the age groups, they’ve been very similar in their development,” Southgate said.

“Jadon has obviously had more big-match experience at this point and, he has been with us, as the senior team, for a bit longer.

“But Callum has fitted in brilliantly and I won’t hesitate to start either of them in the game, they’re ready, they can play no problem for us.”

Czech Republic head coach Jaroslav Silhavy says his side are not channelling the spirit of Euro 96 ahead of the game.

The Czechs captured the hearts of the nation during their run to the final of the European Championships 23 years ago, where they lost to Germany at Wembley, which allowed the likes of Karel Poborsky and Patrick Berger to enjoy successful club spells in this country.

But it is their 2008 visit that Silhavy has used to motivate his players.

England needed a 90th-minute Joe Cole goal to earn a 2-2 draw as the Czechs put in a spirited display.

“That was a great experience back in 1996 and we have some players like Karel Poborsky here to support us,” Silhavy said.

“We didn’t speak about 1996, we spoke about 2008 when we had a draw here, we really enjoyed that so I have talked about that because I was part of that.

“We would like to repeat that result.”

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