England players aspiring to participate in the upcoming European Championship in Germany must ensure their fitness meets the required standards, cautioned manager Gareth Southgate.
UEFA has reduced the permitted squad size to 23 players, down from the increased limit of 26 at the previous Euro edition.
The adjustment was initially made to address the potential challenges posed by COVID-19, such as player shortages due to infections and quarantine measures.
During the 2021 Euros, Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson made the England squad while recovering from injuries, and in the last World Cup, players like Kyle Walker, James Maddison, and Kalvin Phillips were included despite grappling with similar fitness issues.
“We can take far fewer gambles than we were able to take for the last two tournaments, where it was 26,” Southgate told reporters ahead of England’s Euro 2024 qualifier against North Macedonia.
“The size of the squad makes it a different sort of thought process because you’ve had that leeway in the last couple of tournaments to take players that weren’t going to be fit for the first couple of games.
“This time the physical conditioning of players is going to be really important. The ability for players to bat out six, seven games…If you can only take two for each position, players that are adaptable are helpful.”
England, who have already qualified for the Euro 2024 finals, top Group C with 19 points from seven games. They face North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday.
Source: The Independent Ghana