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Gareth Southgate won’t let Kieran Trippier reports distract from England mission

England v Bulgaria – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group A – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

England boss Gareth Southgate maintains he has to stay focused on the job at hand rather than be distracted by any off-field matters as he prepares his squad for the Nations League clash with Denmark.

Reports emerged on Tuesday afternoon that former Tottenham defender Kieran Trippier had left the England camp to attend a disciplinary hearing over an FA betting charge.

“There is not a lot I can say about that really, it is not something which is in my control,” the England manager said when asked about the issue in the pre-match press conference.

“I have got to focus on preparing the team with the players I have got available. We always find solutions, it is an opportunity for somebody else.

“If I lose focus on the job in hand – there are a million distractions, frankly – so this is another distraction, but it is something I have got to plough on through.”

On whether the departures of Trippier and fellow full-back Ben Chilwell, who has also left the squad, will make a difference Southgate added: “Well it is not ideal, clearly, but we are used to dealing with these things. It is so hard to have a squad without withdrawals, without injuries.

“We have to adapt and when one player is missing, it is an opportunity for others. We have seen already in the last couple of matches that when people have opportunities, they are ready to grab them.”

Southgate also played down any suggestions of a club-versus-country row over the use of captain Harry Kane.

Tottenham striker Kane was confined to a cameo role off the bench in Sunday’s victory over Belgium as he nursed a muscular issue.

England v Belgium – UEFA Nations League – Group 2 – League A – Wembley Stadium

Harry Kane started the game against Belgium on the bench (Neil Hall/PA)

Southgate has since suggested Kane could be ready for action from kick-off against the Danes.

“That is not the conversations we have been having with Spurs medically, and not conversations we have been having in the camp,” the England manager said.

“He has not had an injury, he was feeling delayed muscles soreness, which can happen to athletes.

“We don’t risk players, my priority is always the welfare of players.

“We have ended up on the very rare occasions with a couple of injuries during matches, that is pretty much unavoidable, but we have never lost a player through an error in terms of our training loading and we pride ourselves on looking after the players.

“We want them fit, as sharp as possible for the games.

“Our issue with Harry before Sunday’s game was to be able to perform at the highest level. Now he has got another couple of additional days training in, it is not even an issue.”

Southgate feels his team can take confidence from the win over Belgium into the challenges ahead.

He said: “We are where we are now as a team and are a team with some experience, and so that should give us some belief.

“We also know there is more to be working at. It is only a really good result if we get a win against Denmark.”

England v Belgium – UEFA Nations League – Group 2 – League A – Wembley Stadium

Marcus Rashford scored a penalty against Belgium (Michael Regan/PA)

Meanwhile, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford feels England’s young players have proven they can step up.

“The atmosphere of the squad is terrific, we all understand we are all together as one, especially in tournament football,” he said.

“Looking forward, I think it is a big strength of ours to have so many players who can make differences on the pitch.

“We have to work together and whatever way we can beat a team, that is what we have to do to get the win.

“The more opportunities we have to do that, it just shows the strength we have.”