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Gareth Southgate uses France and Portugal example after calling England players’ meeting

Gareth Southgate has told his England players they will have to be more “savvy” if they want to become a top team.

Southgate revealed he called a players’ meeting and held up France and Portugal as experienced serial winners because of their game management.

Three Lions boss Southgate was unhappy with elements of Sunday’s win over Albania and says his young squad need to be more streetwise as they face Poland at Wembley.

Southgate said: “I just think when I’ve watched the French and Portuguese, teams that have won, they are savvy and experienced winners. And that’s something we have to add to this group.

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“There’s a lot of young players in this group, they haven’t won things at their club – we’ve got to help them learn how to win big matches. That’s part of our responsibility as well as of course the experiences they will get at their clubs.

Southgate called a players' meeting after the Albania win
Southgate called a players’ meeting after the Albania win

“But we mustn’t miss those opportunities. If we came off the other night and patted everyone on the back and said: ‘we had 70 percent of the ball, that’s good and scored our two goals.’ That’s fine but it’s not going to be enough and we have to constantly strive for more.”

Southgate faces Poland in what is a huge chance for England to enjoy a third straight win, take a huge step towards next summer’s World Cup finals and it is also the last competitive fixture before he names the squad for the Euros this summer.

But Southgate warned England must stay focused on the World Cup qualifiers, not worry about the Euros even if he admitted some places are up for grabs.

Southgate added: “We are not really thinking of the summer at the moment, we are thinking about this match. We can go five points clear in the group and that is a really important opportunity for us.

“I know at the back of everyone’s mind there is a European Championship but we’ve got World Cup qualifiers and it is crucial that we qualify.

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“If we are not taking charge of the group all the talk of potential and what this young group of players might be, they won’t get the opportunity to play at a major finals. We have to make sure we get that right.

“The team is evolving and we are going to be some big matches between now and the end of the season. Of course it can change over the next six or seven weeks and you’ve got to balance form against what we believe people are really capable of.”

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