Southgate not getting carried away

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Published: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Gareth Southgate is refusing to be carried away by his England Under-21 side after seeing them take another significant step forward with a victory over fellow European Championship finalists Germany.

Southgate’s youngsters twice came from behind at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium before surging to a 3-2 win, to the delight of a crowd of 30,178.

However, despite also beating Portugal and hosts the Czech Republic, who will also be at this summer’s finals tournament, the former England defender is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

Asked if he was excited by what might lie ahead, Southgate said: “Not really.

“I love working with the group that we have, staff and players, it’s a real united body of people. We have got quality and they want to be the best they can be, so they have got a chance.

“But we also know that we are very quick to put people on a pedestal, and we haven’t achieved anything yet. We have had some good results, we have had some nice compliments, but we know what our goal is and we know that we are driven to achieve that.

“We are not interested in too much until we do that.”

Southgate’s caution was perhaps a reflection of an ordinary start by his team as they struggled to get to grips with a Germany squad boasting some 600 more top-flight appearances than his.

England fell behind with just 15 minutes gone when Kaiserslautern striker Philipp Hofmann, celebrating his 22nd birthday, expertly controlled and converted a left-wing cross, and after Jesse Lingard had levelled, restored Germany’s lead within five minutes of the restart.

The home team left it late to make the big push, but when it came, it was decisive.

Nathan Redmond’s strike from substitute Alex Pritchard’s pass levelled it with 10 minutes remaining, and it was left to skipper James Ward-Prowse to win it two minutes later when he accepted full-back Carl Jenkinson’s ball and calmly steered his shot past keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Asked how he would manage expectation ahead of the summer, Southgate said: “We will just show people the first 25 minutes of the game – that will keep everybody’s expectations in check, it’s as simple as that.

“We have belief in the group of players, and they are fantastic to work with. We believe they can play at a very high level, but we believe because of the talent and the ability that they have and the attitude that they have that we can keep pushing them.

“We have to keep pushing because the standard will go up again in the summer and everybody else will be more competitive again, and we have got to be the same.”

Published: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by The News Editor

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