England manager Gareth Southgate insists his duty-bound squad will not take their Nations League third-place play-off match with Switzerland lightly.
Following Thursday’s semi-final defeat to the Netherlands, England will meet Switzerland on Sunday in Guimaraes to compete for the consolation prize of a third-place in the Nations League.
It marks the second year in succession the Three Lions have entered a third-place play-off after losing 2-0 to Belgium in the 2018 World Cup one in Russia.
Pundits have suggested Southgate may use the match as an opportunity to experiment on his team. Furthermore, questions have been raised over the motivations levels of the players for the fixture.
As a former England international himself, however, Southgate is well aware that will be no issue whatsoever. Therefore, the 48-year-old’s sole concern lies with ensuring the team end their Nations League campaign on a high.
“No England international is a practice match,” said Southgate, according to Sky Sports.
“Every time you wear the shirt there is importance for you, the country and the supporters. Individuals have opportunities to impress and perform to ensure they remain in the squad.
“We want to finish the season on a good note with a healthy performance. There were a lot of aspects to our performance the other night that were very good.
“You can look at it through the perspective that we were a couple of inches in a decision away from being in a final.
“But equally, it is impossible to make as many mistakes as we did and win big matches.”
The English coach also rejected comparisons between England’s semi-final defeats in the 2018 World Cup to Croatia and the Nations League one to Holland on Thursday.
Despite taking the lead against Croatia in Russia, the Three Lions exited the World Cup after conceding two second-half goals.
Meanwhile, John Stones and Ross Barkley’s extra-time mistakes opened the door for Holland to seal a 3-1 win over England in the Nations League.
“I think it was a different game to the semi-final [of the World Cup],” said Southgate.
“We had a period at the start when we couldn’t play through [Netherlands’] press as well as we should.
“But then we had a period where I think we did do that well and finished the first half on top.
“I think they had a lot of possession without ever creating a clear chance from it. All of their chances came from our mistakes. All of them.
“That was a little bit of a different scenario to last summer when we felt could have been tactically better and we stopped trying to play out.
“We certainly did not stop trying to play out the other night, whether we did it effectively is another case in point.
“The errors we made were not because we were trying to play out from the back, they were errors in decision making.
“When we played out and played well [it worked]. The move for the disallowed goal started on our byline, the move for the (Marcus) Rashford chance in the first half, we played right through the thirds of the pitch.
“We had possession with the threat to create three or four chances that actually they didn’t, but you have to give them credit for their control and how they built momentum later in the game.”
The England and Switzerland match will begin at 15:00 (CET) on Sunday.