Gareth Southgate questions whether England have got any 'big players'

7 October 2017, 23:16

Manager Gareth Southgate says England can't claim to have any 'big players' until they start performing in tournaments.

But Southgate says his squad have the hunger to prove themselves worthy of the label in the future.

Southgate has guided England to comfortable qualification for next summer's World Cup finals in Russia but questions remain about the quality of the team.

Recent performances at major tournaments have been under-whelming and Southgate's men required an injury-time Harry Kane goal to beat Slovenia 1-0 at Wembley on Thursday.

The likes of Kane and Dele Alli have high public profiles due to their Premier League exploits but, ahead of Sunday's game against Lithuania in Vilnius, Southgate questioned whether any members of his squad are worthy of the 'big player' tag yet.

"Well, are they big players until they win?" said the England boss.

"We're talking about big players because of transfer fees or because they are playing in the Champions League.

"When we are in semi-finals, finals, winning trophies, then I think we're big players.

"Until that point, for me, we have it all to prove.

"I am the same as coach, so I don't disassociate myself from that. But we can't consider ourselves big players.

"Big players are (Gerard) Pique, (Sergio) Ramos, (Sergio) Busquets, (Toni) Kroos, (Sami) Khedira, (Manuel) Neuer - I could go on. That's what big players are.

"We create a bubble in our country around the league because of the money, because of the profile of it.

"We have it to prove. No problem, these guys are hungry to prove it."

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