England boss Gareth Southgate fires strong warning to players ahead of North Macedonia clash

England Gareth Southgate North Macedonia

England boss Gareth Southgate has opened up ahead of North Macedonia showdown

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 20/11/2023

- 08:39

The Three Lions will be hoping to secure another victory during the match on Monday night

England boss Gareth Southgate has warned players he won't tolerate anyone easing up ahead of tonight's Euro 2024 qualifying match with North Macedonia.

The Three Lions have been impressive during their qualifying campaign so far, winning six of their seven matches.

England were, however, flat as they beat Malta 2-0 at Wembley on Friday night.

Harry Kane, who scored the hosts' second goal of the night, even criticised his team-mates for the way they performed during that match.

England football

England boss Gareth Southgate has warned his players as North Macedonia showdown looms


And Southgate has now warned England players that anybody he feels is easing up won't be named in his Euro 2024 squad next summer.

The 53-year-old also said he wants his side to secure No 1 spot in the FIFA rankings, too.

"Why (would they do that)? What are we trying to do? Why would we accept that?" he said when asked about players taking their foot off the gas.

"We’ve got a chance as we did at the weekend (2-0 win over Malta) for some players to grow.

"I spoke after the game about Marc Guehi and Trent Alexander-Arnold (doing well). We got Cole Palmer into the game as well.

"I can’t imagine in any other environment where you would be thinking, 'Let’s just see these games out'.

"Maybe that’s why we haven’t got to where we need to as a team in the past."

He added: "We might be ranked third in the world at the minute, but we’re two places off where we need to be, so we can’t waste games.

"If we’re going to be a top team, then the level of performance has got to be spot on every time.

"Yes (FIFA No 1 spot is an ambition), because ultimately you achieve that through consistency and you’ve got to play well in the tournaments, because the ranking points are higher.

"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 was asked about Marcus Rashford, too.

The Manchester United star has toiled for his club this season, scoring just one goal from 16 appearances.

And Rashford underwhelmed during England's win over Malta on Friday night, too.

Southgate was quizzed on whether the forward would start and, while he kept his cards close to his chest, did suggest the winger would need to improve between now and the end of the season.

"We’ve obviously got good competition for places in the wide positions," he stated.

"All of our players have to be aware that they have to play well.

"We have to pick a squad for the Euros in three matches’ time."


England football North Macedonia

England hammered North Macedonia 7-0 when the two sides last met back in June


England hammered North Macedonia 7-0 when they met at Old Trafford back in June.

Bukayo Saka netted a first hat-trick for his country that day, with Kane netting a brace.

Rashford and Kalvin Phillips also scored that day.

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