ENGLAND

Southgate: "We shouldn't have been playing in September"

England coach Gareth Southgate also admitted that the team created "drama for ourselves on and off pitch, which made life more complicated".

Gareth Southgate has said he believes that internationals should not have been played in September, at a time when players had just returned from a short summer break following a prolonged season due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With Euro 2021 cancelled due to the pandemic, the two UEFA Nations League fixtures in September offered Southgate the chance to get his squad together for the first time in almost ten months. But his side could only muster a sombre 1-0 win against Iceland and saw out a 0-0 draw with Denmark. And looking back, Southgate admitted he felt the games should not have gone ahead. 

Southgate: September was complicated

"September was really, really complicated. We shouldn't have been playing in September. And that really got everything off to a negative footing because the players weren't fit, they weren't sharp. We had to think about who could be on the pitch for however many minutes, really complicated," said Southgate. 

Since then, England have won four of their last six games in October and November, most recently seeing out a 4-0 win against Iceland in Wembley on Wednesday nigjht. 

"The next two months, I think we improved by working with the players. We've been very, very close to achieving the objective," said Southgate.

"But we also must recognise that there are lessons we've got to learn fromt this period. We created dramas for ourselves on and off the pitch, which made life more complicated."

The off-the-pitch drama to which Southgate was referring too was likely that involving players Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden, who were sent home from camp in Iceland after they had met with Icelandic model Nadia Gunnarsdottir and her cousin, Lara Clausen, at the team hotel -- in what was a clear breach of coronavirus protocols.