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England boss Gareth Southgate repeats support for vaccination programme

England Training – St George’s Park – Tuesday October 5th
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

England manager Gareth Southgate has reiterated his belief that getting vaccinated is the best way out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Lions players have been keeping their cards close to their chest on Covid-19 vaccines following a report some of Southgate’s squad were refusing to get the jab.

Tammy Abraham confirmed earlier this week that he is vaccinated, but former Chelsea team-mate Fikayo Tomori chose not to divulge, saying it was a “personal issue”.

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There is fresh scrutiny about vaccination rates within football, with The Sun claiming at the weekend that at least five members of the England squad were refusing to be vaccinated.

Southgate has been a key supporter of the Government’s vaccination programme, taking part in a promotional video, and reiterated his stance ahead of Saturday’s clash with Andorra.

He said: “Everybody knows where I stand on the subject, to move out of the pandemic the only way was a vaccination programme. That was essential.

“There are lots of individual circumstance around that, I understand people could be anxious. When you are in the camp of over 50, there is less to consider, the odds are more straightforward, it’s a lot more straightforward decision.

“I am a believer that is the right thing to do, but I understand there are other topics where everybody would be aligned and we would all have a clear view as a team.

“With this it is a little bit more nuanced. Lots of people have had the virus so maybe they are feeling antibodies are high, people might have individual medical conditions, some people might have religious reasons.

“It is a complicated area, that the route out of the pandemic is a vaccination programme. I am yet to hear anyone offer an alternative.”

On the field, Southgate’s men can go a long way to reaching the 2022 World Cup if they beat Andorra and Hungary in qualifiers over the next few days, starting with the minnows on Saturday.

England are preparing to face Andorra

England are preparing to face Andorra (Nick Potts/PA)

The Three Lions were beaten finalists in Euro 2020 this summer and will be among the favourites for Qatar 2022.

And Southgate knows his side can kick on from their summer heartbreak.

Southgate said: “What I liked last month was that there was no complacency in the attitude of the players, there was a feeling of desire to improve and make sure the next steps are the right ones, keep the standards every day and of course we have to qualify first.

“That is the task over the next six days, to get six points. There is an understanding that we are close, we are ranked well in the world, our results over a period of time have been consistent but we know we want to go one step further than the summer.”