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Gareth Southgate has given the nation a stark reality check – and claimed England aren't yet ready to win the Euros.
After a barrage of criticism following the dismal goalless draw with Scotland Southgate declared England are “still a work in progress” and haven't got the capability to match powerful favourites France or Portugal.
The toothless performance against Scotland has now left Three Lions needing a victory against the Czech Republic back at Wembley on Tuesday to top Group D.
England's place in the last 16 is all but assured – but after the way his stars played against the Auld Enemy Southgate was subjected to a barrage of criticism which has rattled him.
Gareth Southgate has suggested that England should not be considered amongst the favourites for the Euros
And in defending his stars Southgate sought to play down expectations – by pouring a bucket of cold water on hopes of a first tournament win since 1966.
After failing in almost every department against the pumped-up Scots that's clear – but Southgate believes it's unfair to class his tournament rookies in the same bracket as more experienced rivals.
“I think I have said before that some teams are at a different point in their development.
“The run that Italy have had – 28 or 29 games unbeaten – and we know what France and Portugal have done over the last few years and Belgium have been the No 1 team in the world for four years.
“So that's the level. That's the standard we've got to aspire to” says the Three Lions chief.
“We're a work in progress. The first step is to qualify from the group and then we're into the next phase.
“But at this moment we've got to get the game against the Czech Republic right.”
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And with critics piling in on mis-firing skipper Harry Kane Southgate believes he should get the blame for the insipid Scotland draw – not the Tottenham star.
“I always look at myself first and in the end when you have a result like that I understand there’s going to be criticism.
“The important thing is that everyone gets behind the players and they’re going to need to feel that support and warmth.
“This is a relatively inexperienced group, I think the third least caps in the tournament. We played a young team against Scotland so that’s a different experience for a lot of them than they’ve every faced before.
“They’ve just about survived it. We want to be better and that’s what we’re going to work through in the next few days before we play the Czech Rep.
“In terms of Harry and performances, in the end centre forwards rely on the service of the team as well.
“We’ve got to make sure that every aspect of the team, the game and the performance is right and we haven't been able to do that so Harry hasn’t been able to do that either.”
Southgate defended hooking Kane in the 74th minute – but gave no hint that he'll be dropping the Golden Boot winner who has scored 35 games for club and country since the start of the season.
“It’s always difficult when it's your captain because he's player we’ve never had to take off in the past and of course at his club you leave him on in any circumstance.
England will look to do much better against Czech Republic on Tuesday
“But we were trying to pose a different problem and were running up against a solid defence.
“The first solution wasn’t working and we also have a bench like we have so it was important to try a different way.”
Southgate's under pressure to make changes against the Czech's – and he admits he's ready to unleash Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho on the Euro's.
“We've got some explosive options – and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time.
“Jadon is in that mix. He's trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make.”