Lockdown gives England Euro 2020 planning headache, says Southgate

Gareth Southgate says all England’s preparations for Euro 2020 are currently having to be made on Zoom as he revealed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the national team.

The head coach says that working under coronavirus restrictions – with England unable to operate in a bubble like club sides – leaves his staff facing an “incredible challenge” to get ready for a tournament in which they are expected to compete strongly this summer.

Speaking alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Kenny Dalglish and Jürgen Klopp at an online event raising money for dementia research, Southgate said: “We’re in a strange situation. When we were in camp we were running in the same way as clubs, but at the moment all of our meetings, all of our preparation is having to be done via Zoom.

“It’s an incredible challenge for our staff. We are all disconnected. We’re not interacting in the same way. You can’t check in with players the same way. We’re facing the same problems that lots of people will relate to.

“Of course, in three months’ time we’ve got to prepare for a European Championship and we really don’t know what the tournament in the end is going to look like. At the moment Uefa are saying it will still be played across 12 cities, but we’ve got to prepare for a number of different scenarios. Trying to book hotels and know where you’re going to be based, all of those things are a lot more complicated than they normally would be.”

Southgate admitted that restrictions were also affecting players, who have been the subject of political focus this week with pressure on them to limit further their physical interactions, including goal celebrations.

“They’re social animals, they want to enjoy their training and they want to enjoy each other’s company”, Southgate said. “We’re seeing some really strange results and lack of consistency with teams. I think when you look at how the training grounds are …we know when we had the players with England the measures we had to take just in the buildup to games to keep everyone distanced and that was before we were into the full lockdown situation they’re in now.”