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Prove you’re worthy of ‘world-class’ tag against Denmark, Southgate tells England

Southgate is aiming to guide England past Denmark at Euro 2024 for the second edition of the tournament in a row
Southgate is aiming to guide England past Denmark at Euro 2024 for the second edition of the tournament in a row

Gareth Southgate has urged his England team to justify their world-class billing when they take on Denmark in their second Group C game at Euro 2024 on Thursday.

England began their campaign with an unconvincing win over Serbia on Sunday and can clinch a place in the last 16 by taking another three points against Denmark in Frankfurt.

Southgate’s team beat the Danes to reach the final of the last Euros and opposing goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel believes the Three Lions have only got stronger.

“We have to prove that,” said the England head coach. “Obviously, the opponent is not going to sit here and say we’re a load of idiots. We have good players.”

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Former Leicester City goalkeeper Schmeichel was part of the Danish side which lost 2-1 to England after extra-time three years ago at Wembley.

“I think England were a world-class side when we met them,” he said. “And when you look at some of the additions since and the experience they’ve gained, I think they’re probably a better side now than ever, at least in the time I’ve been playing against them.

“All over the pitch they have world-class talent, so they’re a very good side and we’re going to have to be on top of our game to beat them.”

Southgate confirmed that left-back Luke Shaw is not ready to feature against Denmark, having not yet recovered fitness following an injury in February.

That means Kieran Trippier is likely to fill in for Shaw again, while England have selection decisions to make in midfield over Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Foden struggled to make an impact on the ball against Serbia but Southgate praised his unselfishness for helping the team to hold on to a lead in the second half.

“I thought Phil did an incredible job for the team on Sunday,” he told ITV. “Sometimes the bits with the ball are obvious and they catch the eye.

“But the amount of ground he covered, the angles of pressing, the filling in for people who were further forward; I thought without Phil’s contribution without the ball – and I know that’s not the sexy bit and everybody wants to see him on the ball – I don’t think we win the game.

“So then later in the game when we needed somebody to retain the ball and take the pressure, I thought he did that really well for us.”