England aiming to be world number one team, says Gareth Southgate
'That's got to be our drive.'
Southgate takes his team to North Macedonia on Monday night in the final game of qualification for the tournament next summer, although the job is already done for England as they have guaranteed top spot in their group.
However, the manager is keen to remind his players that there is plenty to play for, with just two friendlies left after Monday’s game before the serious business of the European Championships next year.
Players should be motivated to impress their boss anyway, but he has set out the goal of reaching the top of the FIFA rankings as well, hoping to climb from England’s current spot in fourth place.
On whether reaching world number one for the first time ever is a motivation, Southgate said: ‘Yeah, because ultimately you achieve that through consistency and you’ve got to play well in the tournaments as well because the ranking points are higher in the tournaments.
‘Also, it sets behaviours every day on the training pitch, off the training pitch.
‘If you are going to be the top-ranked team, there’s no room for sloppiness or casualness. That’s got to be our drive.’
Southgate added: ‘Qualification’s done. Some of the players have got three games to get into a squad, some have got maybe three to get into a team, maybe a couple more if we’re talking about the team
‘There’s some things we’d like to see. But if we’re going to be a top team, then the level of performance has got to be spot on every time.’
Hoping to impress Southgate on Monday night in North Macedonia would have been West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen, but he has picked up an injury in training and will miss the trip.
‘Unfortunately Jarrod picked up an injury, I think he felt it a little bit yesterday and again at the end of training today,’ confirmed Southgate at his pre-match press conference.
‘We didn’t really have enough time to assess it fully and make a really accurate decision before the game so we felt better to leave him in England so that he can get it properly assessed.
‘I don’t think it’s going to be anything serious but we just didn’t have enough time and we wouldn’t take a risk in that situation.’
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