GARETH SOUTHGATE says racist abuse of England stars who missed penalties has made his quest for the World Cup even more difficult.
Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford have all been targeted by fanatics after failing to convert from penalties in last summer’s Euro 2020 final.
And Southgate admits he has to take any potential abuse into account when creating his list of Qatar 2022 penalty takers.
The England boss, whose side had come naggingly close to winning the first trophy since 1966, said: “Now we’ve indirectly created another level of difficulty to overcome a penalty shoot-out.
“I have to take all of these things into account – and it’s incredibly complex.
“We talked about penalties and everything else for years. And we have another level now that will make it extremely difficult for us to win anything.”
Southgate revealed he felt personally responsible for the mistreatment suffered by Saka, Sancho and Rashford immediately after their penalty shootout defeat by Italy.
The manager, who is ramping up his plans for the World Cup in November, said: “I couldn’t help but think, ‘Did I create this situation for the guys?’
“But it wouldn’t be right not to select the players you think would be the most suitable given the possible consequences of being absent would be.
“I have to choose them based on the belief that they will score. I am trying to balance whether it is about racism itself – which is abhorrent and unacceptable – and what you identify that there is another layer of complexity to this decision.”
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Former Three Lions defender Southgate, whose missed penalty defeated the team in the Euro 96 semi-finals, added: “We prepared for the penalty shootout. And we definitely checked that.
“One thing that was very clear was that all the other big nations had a lot more playing regularly for their club.
“We only had Harry Kane and Rashford, who was second at Manchester United after Bruno Fernandes.
“Some of the guys, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold, have done more with their clubs now.
“Bukayo took a few with him for his club – incredibly brave moments that embody what he is about.
“But we need to cover that work in our camps and make it really focused and specific. We do what we can.
“Psychology is part of it and I have to be aware of all those things.”
Raheem Sterling will return to the starting XI for tonight’s Nations League game against Germany in Munich.
Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi is in the running after recovering from an ankle injury. But Fikayo Tomori (hamstring) is unlikely to be risked and James Justin (calf) is out.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5504032/gareth-southgate-england-racist-abuse-penalty-takers/ Southgate says racists are hurting England’s World Cup hopes as boss thinks twice about taking penalties after euro abuse