England boss Southgate happy to throw young Lions into fray against Brazil

England's Lewis Cook (left) and John Stones during a training session at Enfield. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA
England's Lewis Cook (left) and John Stones during a training session at Enfield. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA
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GARETH SOUTHGATE “will not hesitate” to throw Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook and Angus Gunn into action for England against Brazil.

The young trio have been drafted in for Tuesday’s glamour friendly at Wembley and, after handing five players a senior bow in Friday’s encouraging goalless draw against world champions Germany, Southgate is again open to giving youth a chance.

“It’s a very easy squad to settle in to,” said the Three Lions boss. “The senior players are very open, very welcoming. Most of the squad are young anyway so know each other from younger age groups.

“Those (three new) guys have fitted in off the field no problem which helps them to fit in on the field - and they’re good players, so in training they look fine.

“We have to see how the game progresses but I won’t have any hesitation in putting them on the pitch.

“Angus has worked with the under-21s with us, he’s playing in the league. The other two - captain of the Under-20 World Cup winners (Cook) and Golden Boot winner in the Under-20s World Cup (Solanke). They’ve got good pedigree, and we won’t hesitate to put them on the pitch.”

England's Eric Dier (left) and manager Gareth Southgate during a training session at Enfield. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

England's Eric Dier (left) and manager Gareth Southgate during a training session at Enfield. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Southgate, who confirmed Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier will keep the armband, hopes to expose some players to the pressures of a penalty shootout ahead of the World Cup.

The boss needs no reminding about England’s woe in shootouts, having missed the vital penalty in the heartbreaking Euro 96 semi-final defeat to Germany.

The Three Lions have not got much better since, having won only one of seven shootouts in major competitions.

On what England have to do to improve their record, Southgate said: “It’s about being able to execute a technique under pressure.

Those (three new) guys have fitted in off the field no problem which helps them to fit in on the field - and they’re good players, so in training they look fine. I won’t have any hesitation in putting them on the pitch.

Gareth Southgate

“In the beginning of that run very few matches went to penalty shootouts, it was a fairly unique experience, you didn’t face it very often with your club.

“You had four or five FA Cup games that went to replays instead of going to shootouts, so we were used to having hundreds of matches on boggy pitches but we weren’t used to being under that pressure.

“After a period of defeats, there is something more to it.

“I played in a team that won a quarter-final on penalties. We had players who were regular penalty takers who executed their penalties brilliantly in the quarter-final and semi-final, so clearly it is the guys who aren’t used to that situation that then have to have a strategy to dealing with it.

“We have to have a plan for that, we have to take into consideration the new format that might be involved.

“There’s a lot of different areas we can work on with that, we can put players into pressure scenarios, which is good.

“Also, frankly you have to be good enough to get to that stage; it’s not penalties that knocked us out of the last two tournaments.”

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