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England stars take the Countdown challenge as Southgate sends warning



GARETH SOUTHGATE spelt out his demands to England’s stars in the Countdown to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign and told them: Seize the moment.

Arsenal star Bukayo Saka and Co took part in a special edition of Channel 4’s popular TV game show, alongside maths whizz Rachel Riley, at St George’s Park on Tuesday.

John Stone also took part in the show
England Countdown, which also features Luke Shaw, will air before the game against Italy
Luke Shaw and James Maddison featured with Rachel Riley host
Gareth Southgate did not rule out staying on until after Euro 2024

And Southgate knows his first conundrum is how England qualify for the finals, starting with facing champions Italy in a tough Group C clash in Naples.

With the clock ticking, the Three Lions boss told his players not to assume they will be a permanent fixture in the team as heartbreak could be around the corner.

England are still looking for a first trophy since 1966 World Cup glory.
Southgate, whose deal runs out after this tournament, also hinted he could stay on if his team wins.


He declared: “You have to be careful as a player not to assume this might not be your last chance.

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“You’re always going to think you’re going to have other opportunities. But injury, form, new players coming in . . . you can never take it for granted.

“The older ones know the timescale is quite clear. But everybody else has to be mindful as well.

“The team is always evolving. We have tried to constantly give people their opportunity.

“That happened with Jude Bellingham and we have one or two others just on the fringes.”

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham starts against the Azzurri and Southgate will field a similar team to the one which lost 2-1 to France in last year’s Qatar World Cup quarter-final.


Asked if he will definitely quit England next year, Southgate said: “Well, that depends if we win!”


Quizzed whether he would sign a new deal if England won in Germany, he added: “Let’s hope we’ve got that opportunity to make that decision.”

Southgate is hoping to deliver his 50th win as England boss
and Three Lions skipper Harry Kane is looking to become England’s all-time record scorer as he is level with Wayne Rooney on 53 goals.

Asked about Kane, who missed a penalty against France, Southgate said: “We’ve seen with his performances for his club that he has put the World Cup behind him.

“But he will have added motivation to show what he is about in an England shirt, which is a great position for us.”

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice stressed England are keen to win in Italy for the first time since 1961.

Rice said: “There is more expectation now than ever.

“If you look at this squad it’s full of top-quality players.


“The record in Italy hasn’t been good and since the Euros this will be the fourth time we have played them and we haven’t won yet.

“It will be a really big statement if we can go there and win.”

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England will have a great chance if Bukayo Saka, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Eric Dier and James Maddison dazzle as they did on Countdown.

Channel 4 will screen the programme before Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine.

Source: The Sun

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