Gareth Southgate says Premier League clubs should give young players a chance

Premier League managers need to be "brave enough" to give young England players a chance in their first teams, says Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

England flew back into Birmingham on Sunday having finished fourth in the World Cup in Russia.

The squad selected by Southgate was England's third-youngest in the tournament's 88-year history.

"We now have players who I think can stand on their own two feet in the Premier League," said Southgate.

England's youth teams have experienced success in recent years with the under-17 and under-20 sides being crowned world champions in their age groups.

The under-19s won last year's European Championship and the under-21 side reached the semi-finals of the Euros the same year.

Southgate said England's players have shown they can compete against players "from around Europe and the world, and they have proved that on a world stage at different age groups".

He added: "I think we've got good competition for places and the basis of a really good team, and we've got some young players coming through over the next couple of years that we think can start to push [for places].

"It's got to become more difficult to get into the senior squad."

Southgate impressed by trio

The squad and staff arrived in Birmingham on Sunday, a day after the 2-0 loss against Belgium in the third-fourth place play-off.

A number of the players had little experience at international level heading to Russia but despite that, the likes of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Leicester defender Harry Maguire and Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier all impressed.

Southgate said: "Of course, managers need time. I was given an opportunity here to blood younger players in this tournament and they have proved that they could perform at a really good level.

"Managers at clubs need that time as well - and also, you have got to be brave enough to take those decisions if you think that it's the right thing for the long term.

"There is no doubt that some players we took who only had a handful of caps before the tournament - I'm thinking particularly of Pickford, Maguire, Trippier as the examples - they come back better players, better, more rounded individuals full of confidence for their clubs.

"The development in the main happens at clubs, but if it works both ways, that then means the clubs then view it as a positive experience for their players as well."

'We want more'

England's reputation as a global footballing force was in question after going out of the 2014 World Cup in the group stages and suffering a humiliating exit at the hands of minnows Iceland at Euro 2016.

But Southgate's youthful side restored pride as his team made it out of the group before winning a knockout contest for the first time since 2006 and also securing a penalty shootout victory - England's first ever in a World Cup - over Colombia in the last 16.

And even though the tournament ended in disappointment with defeats by Croatia in the semi-finals and Belgium in the third-fourth playoff game, Southgate was pleased by their overall showing.

"I don't think we thought we would necessarily go to a World Cup and play in the manner that we did and [show] the control that we did," said Southgate.

"But of course, we are greedy, we want more, we want to be in those latter stages of tournaments all of the time - and of course when you are 20 minutes away from a World Cup final, that's something that you can't help think back to as a brilliant opportunity.

"Equally, the game against Belgium was a reminder to us that, although the second half was probably one of our best performances in the tournament, they had some outstanding players that made a difference on the day, and that's the level that we've got to get to."


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