Gareth Southgate: England have been put in 'unnecessary positions
LONDON - England manager Gareth Southgate has said his team are putting themselves in "unnecessary positions off the pitch" after they were reduced to 10 men and beaten 1-0 by Denmark on Wednesday.
The Nations League defeat, which was England's first in a year, raised questions of their discipline with three players getting red cards across the campaign and others being punished for unprofessional behaviour.
Manchester United defender Harry Maguire was the latest to see red after two careless tackles in half an hour before England conceded the game-winning penalty scored by Christian Eriksen.
Debutant Reece James was shown red after the final whistle for dissent when the 20-year-old complained to the referee.
Kyle Walker was sent off last month against Iceland after they opened the campaign in Reykjavik with a fortunate 1-0 win.
Southgate says his players need to understand these incidents can be costly in tournament football.
"We've got to learn from it because if you go down to 10, historically that means we're out (of a game), especially if you're doing it for an hour," Southgate said.
"The reds for Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire here, one yellow justified, one not so sure. We've put ourselves in unnecessary positions off the pitch."
What Southgate means by that is he has been forced to drop players because of their behaviour.
Young players Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home from Reykjavik last month after breaking coronavirus quarantine guidelines by inviting a pair of Icelandic women to the team hotel.
Maguire was reintroduced to the side in the 3-0 friendly win against Wales and the 2-1 victory on Sunday against Belgium.
He was also dropped last month because of a current case with Greek authorities after he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on holiday in Mykonos. He is currently appealing the decision.
"He's having a difficult time and in these periods, you learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot about other people," Southgate responded when asked about Maguire.
"He'll come through it and he'll be a stronger man for it. That's the life of a top player, if nobody's interested in you then your life is very straight forward.
"If you're the captain of Manchester United and a top player for England then everybody has an opinion. A lot of things are going against him right now but he needs to show the resilience I know he has to come through that."
Despite the defeat, Southgate maintains he is satisfied with their current level of performance, even after being beaten by Denmark.
"They almost carried out the perfect plan with 10 men," he said.
"But I couldn't be prouder of what they've done across the three matches.
"We've given a lot of debuts and the group have grown stronger together. We're learning a huge amount. That will stand us in good stead moving forward."
England will return next month to finish off their Nations League group matches, starting in Brussels on November 15 against Belgium before hosting Iceland.
They are third in the group with seven points, the same as Denmark, but the Danes have a better head-to-head record. Belgium are top on nine.
Southgate knows a win is vital for their progression in the tournament to next year's finals.
"We wanted the win because that would mean we needed a draw in Brussels to make the progression," said Southgate. "Now we have to go there and win. That's difficult but not impossible."