Gareth Southgate makes admission on England midfield problem

  • Conor Gallagher started in midfield with Declan Rice & Jude Bellingham in Brazil defeat
  • Jordan Henderson out through injury; Kobbie Mainoo made England debut as late sub
  • Gareth Southgate admits England are short in defensive midfield area
Southgate's England were beaten by Brazil
Southgate's England were beaten by Brazil / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Gareth Southgate spoke about England's options in midfield alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham following the 1-0 defeat to Brazil on Saturday night.

Young prodigy Endrick settled the international friendly with his first senior goal for the Selecao in the 80th minute, consigning the Three Lions to defeat against the South Americans who had lost their three previous fixtures.

While Rice and Bellingham are shoo-ins for midfield places at Euro 2024, the third spot looks to be up for grabs. Conor Gallagher started on Saturday while Manchester United youngster Kobbie Mainoo entered the fray as a second-half substitute.

"I think they did really well," Southgate said. "Conor's in a slightly different position, having to play a bit deeper. We managed to play through the pressure well. I thought Declan was outstanding with and without the ball.

"We're short of a few. We don't have a lot of midfield players who play as sixes in the league. That's why we brought Kobbie in."

Jude Bellingham
Bellingham was excellent for England again / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Competition for that third spot is rife, with a number of Three Lions stars not included in the squad for March's friendlies due to injury. Trent Alexander-Arnold is one player currently sidelined, while Liverpool teammate Curtis Jones likely would have made the cut had he not been struck down by an ankle problem.

James Maddison remained an unused substitute against Brazil and will be hoping for some significant minutes in Tuesday's clash with Belgium, with Ivan Toney and Jarrad Branthwaite also eager for appearances at Wembley.

Kalvin Phillips has been an England regular since his debut in 2020 but a lack of game time at Manchester City and a poor start to his January loan to West Ham saw the 28-year-old left out of Southgate's latest squad, while Jordan Henderson missed the Brazil clash alongside captain and striker Harry Kane.