Football

Southgate's priority is to remain top of the grou

The history of the occasion is something I will speak to the players about because I think it’s important they understand what to expect. We also have to have emotional control going into the game, so we’ve got to pitch that at the right level.  - Gareth Southgate (above) England at the moment don’t have a manager... so they’re hobbling along as well. Sometimes it’s better to get the wounded animal while it’s limping and this

 

Interim manager Gareth Southgate is more concerned about making England proud against Scotland than his own future.

Thrust into the hotseat following the ignominious end to Sam Allardyce's brief reign, the former defender's temporary four-match spell is soon coming to an end.

A glamour friendly at home to Spain next week closes out a stint in which Saturday morning's (Singapore time) World Cup qualifier against Scotland is comfortably the highlight.

It is reported Southgate will get the job permanently even if England were humbled by Gordon Strachan's men at Wembley, but talk about his long-term future continues to be on the backburner.

"I have really enjoyed it," he said. "It's a great honour. I've played for my country,

"I've got the chance to manage the best players in the country in an England-Scotland game. Wow. For me, that's incredibly exciting.

"As a coach you want to work with good players. What's clear in my mind for this week is the areas you want to work with from last time.

"That should always be ongoing. That should always be our analysis. So, yes, I've enjoyed it and I intend to embrace this opportunity."

Southgate says it "would be wrong to be distracted by anything else", going as far to say his future is "not important" compared to keeping England at the top of the World Cup qualification group.

"What's important is that the team are top of the qualifying group going into Christmas and that the country is in a good place with that," he said.

"Then there is time for whatever process is going to happen to take place. For me, that is what is right for the organisation, going through the process, talking to who they want to talk to.

"I have not discussed what happens next. I've got meetings in the diary about what happens next with all the age groups through to Christmas and January. I've not thought too much about that either.

"The period up to Christmas is a little quieter, which gives people time to do the planning for next year."

Southgate, who called Aaron Cresswell and Jordan Pickford into his squad on Monday as replacements for Danny Drinkwater and Fraser Forster, remains the overriding favourite for a job that has its complexities but is not impossible.

Whether Gordon Strachan, a former colleague from his time in broadcasting, remains managing his country for much longer is another issue given Scotland's poor start to qualification.

Southgate said: "That's the nature isn't it?

"For all of us as coaches, when results are that way.

"I don't know the remit for Gordon. It certainly seemed as if results at the beginning were very good and the players enjoyed playing for him.

"I've got enough to think about without worrying about that as well." - PA Sport.

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