Soccer

‘Alarm bells will ring’ – England warned over ‘psychological issue’ ahead of tough month

Southgate warns England 'hard work starts now' for World Cup

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Former England coach Stuart Pearce has urged Gareth Southgate’s squad to refocus after Euro 2020 heartbreak ahead of a ‘tough’ month of World Cup qualifiers. England continue their 2022 World Cup Qualifying campaign with three games over the next week.

The Three Lions have reunited less than two months on from suffering defeat on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium.

Just over one year from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Southgate has said the ‘hard work starts now’ in England’s preparation.

Pearce believes ‘alarm bells’ will be ringing in the manager’s ear to refocus on the back of a summer of widespread praise and attention.

He told talkSPORT: “The big thing for me is the psychological situation.

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“You know what it’s like, they’ve had euphoria in this summer and a lot of plaudits for what they’ve done and rightly so.

“It was a good tournament for us, getting to the final, fantastic, probably beaten by the best team, but the alarm bells will ring now, I think, with the coaching staff and Gareth.

“We’ve got to refocus to go again for a World Cup in a year and a half’s time, and this is a tough month.

“Away in hungry, away in Poland as part of the three games, so I think it’s really important that they sort of solve that psychological issue and get the boys refocused again.”

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England start the international break with a trip to Hungary on Thursday night – the nation’s first game since July’s final defeat.

Southgate’s side then host Andorra on Sunday before travelling to Poland for the third and final assignment.

England have four more matches in 2021: Andorra away and Hungary at home in October, and Albania at home and San Marino away in November.

Southgate will be eyeing strong performances and results on the back of disappointment over the summer.

He’s named a strong 25-man squad for England’s upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, including a first call-up for Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jesse Lingard return to the squad after missing out on a place in the final cut at Euro 2020.

England’s Player of the Year Kalvin Phillips should keep his place in midfield alongside Declan Rice, with Jordan Henderson also now back to full fitness.

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