England train ahead of Ukraine clash
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Gareth Southgate could hand Jadon Sancho his first start for England at Euro 2020 against Ukraine on Saturday evening, while Mason Mount may be in line for a recall after completing his period of self-isolation, according to reports. The Three Lions will be hoping to book a place in the semi-finals of the competition with victory in Rome after seeing off the challenge posed by old rivals Germany in the previous round on Tuesday.
England are yet to concede a single goal at the Euros this summer and will be confident of their chances of progressing at the expense of Ukraine, who edged past Sweden at the end of extra-time in their first knockout stage match.
If Southgate’s side can earn their fourth victory of the tournament against Ukraine, they will face either Denmark or the Czech Republic in the last four.
A historic clash with Italy or Spain will await England if they are successful in making the final, but the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Pickford will be all too aware that Saturday’s test could represent a potential banana skin if their opponents are underestimated.
Ukraine will be making their first quarter-final appearance at a major tournament since 2006 and will be determined to fight tooth and nail to seal a famous win over England under the lights at the Stadio Olimpico.
In order to avoid an unlikely defeat at the hands of Andriy Shevchenko’s men, Southgate is expected to revert to a back-four system and make two changes to the side that faced Germany, according to The Telegraph.
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The report claims that Sancho, who was finally announced as a Manchester United player on Thursday after a long and drawn-out transfer saga, could be set to start the match with Bukayo Saka’s place in the side under threat.
The Arsenal teenager picked up a slight knock during Friday’s training session and could be forced to miss the game as a result, a development that would pave the way for Sancho to feature out wide for England.
The 20-year-old has played just six minutes of football at the Euros, coming on as a late substitute in his side’s group stage win over the Czech Republic, but will be looking to take his chance to start against Ukraine with both hands and inspire the Three Lions to victory.
Meanwhile, Chelsea playmaker Mount may be poised for a return to Southgate’s starting side after returning from isolation.
Jack Grealish was preferred in the 22-year-old’s absence against the Czechs, while no attacking midfield role was in operation for the visit of Germany, with England matching the five-at-the-back formation employed by the four-time world champions.
United defender Harry Maguire will also feature from the off against Ukraine despite being on a yellow card, with Southgate declaring earlier this week that he cannot afford to rest key players in his efforts to lead the Three Lions to a maiden Euros final.
“I understand the strategy of thinking that through, but I don’t think there is a team in the world who would do that at this point,” the England boss told reporters when quizzed on the possibility of rotating his side on Saturday evening.
“I have never seen it happen and it is not in our thinking. It would be a bad message for our players and it would be the wrong message for Ukraine.
“I don’t think we can fiddle around. It would be just about thinking about the future and we should not be thinking about the future at this moment.
“We have been to three semi-finals in 60 years. The thought that we can be resting players to get through a semi-final, I can’t think of a nation that would do that. I don’t remember a nation doing that.
“It was different in the group phase when we had qualified and knew what we were dealing with. We could strategically do that.”
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