The England defender admitted he got away with a blatant bodycheck on Austria's Sasa Kalajdzic (R)
Credit: Lindsey Parnaby /PA
Tyrone Mings says that England need to be more “streetwise” and look at other nations who “master the darks arts” when it comes to winning tournaments.
The centre-half drew attention last week after he escaped punishment for a blatant bodycheck on Austria’s Sasa Kalajdzic during the warm-up game for Euro 2021.
The challenge in the penalty area went unpunished with Mings admitting he had committed it because he was aware that there was no video assistant referee system in operation.
Asked whether he was fortunate to escape conceding a penalty and, probably, being sent off Mings said: “Not lucky, no, because I knew there wasn’t Var” before conceding that he may well have seen red for it during the Euros.
However he added: “But it wasn’t, wasn’t it? So we can go back through many different occasions in my career and you could say if there was Var in that game, I would have got sent off.
“As a defender, I have done that many times in my career. When a cross is about to come in, block the striker. That is not against the rules. But that one there was probably too aggressive… football is very soft these days, you cannot get away with much. And like you say, if there had have been VAR, absolutely I would have given away a penalty.”
However the 28-year-old claimed that, in the past, England may have lacked a little nous when it comes to navigating tournament football – something that was first raised by Wayne Rooney after the ignominious exit from the 2014 World Cup.
“But being streetwise is a huge part of the game,” Mings said. “You look at other nations and they are masters at the dark arts – staying on the floor for longer than needed, delaying restarts. Being streetwise is also sometimes that gets you over the edge because it winds up the opposition and breaks up their flow and their rhythm.”
There is added scrutiny over England’s defence in particular with injury to Harry Maguire – even if he returned to training on Thursday – casting doubt over who Gareth Southgate will pick and the formation he will use.
As Telegraph Sport revealed on Wednesday the manager is considering using Luke Shaw on the left of a back three – a role that Mings will hope he is also in contention for and he defended England’s defending in the two friendlies against Austria and Romania when they gave up chances but also did not concede in the 1-0 victories.
“Well the defence might not have been as secure as *you* would have liked, but we kept two clean sheets so we’re over the moon with that,” Mings said. “But of course we have players missing, and that brings its own challenges.”
Asked whether he felt the focus was on him, with Maguire expected to miss the opening group game against Croatia on Sunday, Mings said: “Not on me. It’s on Harry and whether or not he will play. If he is not fit and somebody else plays, we will take that as it comes on the day and prepare accordingly. But I don’t feel there is more of a spotlight on me because I don’t know if I would play even if he were not fit. I am just in the shadows trying to help prepare as much as possible.”
Despite Mings’ confidence in the defence Southgate was critical of England’s defending – as a team – against Romania, in particular, and declared they have to perform better.
“Absolutely, they had more chances, especially in the second game, than we would have like to have given and absolutely if you give better teams those sort of chances, we would be punished, and perhaps wouldn’t have as many chances going forward to go and score more goals,” Mings said. “Absolutely we’re aware we have to be better, and limit the amount of chances we concede, because world-class players will definitely take them.”
England have only managed to train as a full squad since meeting up at St George’s Park on Tuesday with the preparations affected by the fact that 11 of the 26 were involved with their clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea – in the two European club finals.
“We were in camp watching the cup finals hoping success on all the English players involved,” Mings said before adding that England are not the only nation in the tournament who have suffered from disrupted preparations.
“Whether it’s being in different countries or missing players as well, some have got injuries, some have got Covid, there are so many challenges at this stage of the year, but I think we have been fluid and dynamic enough to overcome them so far,” he said.