Gareth Southgate wants to see England end Euro qualification on a high
Gareth Southgate says “performance is the priority” in North Macedonia as already-qualified England look to make up for winning with a whimper against minnows Malta.
The Euro 2020 runners-up sealed their place at next summer’s edition with two matches to spare and were below par in Friday’s qualifier.
England disappointed a packed Wembley crowd by limping to a 2-0 victory over Malta, leading the manager to suggest his players had subconsciously taken their foot off the gas.
Southgate did not castigate those that have done so well for him over the years, but he is demanding a vastly-improved display in North Macedonia as they bring the curtain down on 2023.
“Performance is the priority,” Southgate said. “We’ve set a standard. We didn’t reach that standard on Friday. We have to get back to what we’re good at. There’s always a chance within that to have a look at a couple of things that we’d like to see as well.
“But the biggest thing is making sure we hit the level of performance that we’ve set ourselves.”
England’s final match of the year is also set to be their last on foreign soil until the Euros get under way in Germany.
A sold-out Tose Proeski Arena awaits despite the Macedonians’ qualification hopes already having gone up in smoke, with revenge the main focus on Monday.
Few saw June’s 7-0 Old Trafford annihilation at Old Trafford coming and Blagoja Milevski’s men are looking to get a famous result having drawn at home to reigning European champions Italy since then.
“We weren’t at the level of performance that we want on Friday,” said Southgate, whose side have so far gone unbeaten this year.
“We play a team who, although they can’t qualify, have tremendous pride and they’ll be wounded by what happened in Manchester.
“We have to be ready for a really good atmosphere. Full crowd, full stadium. We’ve had a calendar year where we’ve been very good, so we want to finish well.”
West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen has joined Kieran Trippier in withdrawing from the squad for tonight’s clash after suffering a knee injury in training.
Trippier left the camp earlier on Sunday due to a personal matter.