Gareth Southgate tries out Luke Shaw on the left of a back three as the England boss works on various tactics ahead of Euro 2020 opener against Croatia with a lack of options in central defence
Gareth Southgate has experimented by using Luke Shaw as a third centre back in training as he works on alternative formations before Sunday’s European Championship opener against Croatia.
England played with a back four in their warm-up matches against Austria and Romania last week but a 3-4-3 system remains an option as Southgate fine-tunes his plans for the tournament.
His deployment of Shaw was the most intriguing development in training on Wednesday because the Manchester United left back has not played at centre back for his country. It is also indicative of England’s limited options.
Gareth Southgate has experimented by using Luke Shaw as a third centre back in training
Centre back Harry Maguire sat out training again on Wednesday ahead of the start of the Euros
England played with a back four in warm-up matches against Austria and Romania but a 3-4-3 system remains an option for Southgate
Harry Maguire sat out training again on Wednesday as he attempts to recover from ankle-ligament damage, leaving John Stones, Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady and Ben White as the only established centre half options.
White was a late pick for the squad as a replacement for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Mings struggled in the friendlies last week, so Shaw has emerged as an option if Southgate wants to play three centre backs.
Southgate received better news regarding Jordan Henderson’s fitness on Wednesday with the Liverpool captain playing a full part in training and winning a series of head-to-head sprints against Declan Rice. Bukayo Saka also returned to training after resting a minor niggle.
Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell claims that Chelsea’s Champions League final victory over Manchester City last month has brought the England squad closer together.
The Chelsea defender, 24, insisted that there had been no awkwardness between the players from both clubs since they reported to St George’s Park earlier this week, with the City boys instigating the banter about their 1-0 defeat in Porto.
‘We’ve had a few jokes with the City boys,’ Chilwell said. ‘If anything, and it’s quite weird to say, it’s actually brought us closer. To share a Champions League final is something special. Although they were on the losing side, we came here together and it wasn’t awkward at all.
‘To share that experience, such a massive game in all of our careers, was great for all of us. Hopefully it’s put us in good stead going into this tournament. It can only be a positive.’
Ben Chilwell (second from right) says Chelsea’s Champions League final victory over Man City has brought the Three Lions squad closer together
Chilwell’s celebrations in Porto were curtailed by the need to prepare for the Euros but he did enjoy some time off, which he spent visiting his mum in Bedfordshire.
He relaxed by walking the dog and watching his old cricket club, Flitwick. ‘We had a few days to rest and recover, which the manager here was very keen on, to refresh our minds,’ he said.
‘It was nice for me to go home and see my mum and just see how happy she was for me over how the season’s been. I went home, walked the dog, did a bit of laundry, made my own bed. I went to watch the local cricket games, which was nice.
‘I haven’t played cricket for a while, so to get home and go and watch the team that I used to play for was quite nice.’