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EXCLUSIVE: Mills calls for England changes to reignite Euro 2024 campaign

Ex-England defender Danny Mills says Gareth Southgate needs to alter his starting line-up for the rest of Euro 2024.

England's Trent Alexander-Arnold

Ex-England defender Danny Mills has called on Gareth Southgate to change his starting XI for the Euro 2024 match against Slovenia.

The Three Lions put in a poor display against Denmark, resulting in their first dropped points of the tournament.

Kieran Trippier filled in at left-back again in the absence of Luke Shaw, while Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was deployed in midfield.

This resulted in Phil Foden being shunted into a wide area to accommodate Jude Bellingham in a more advanced role.

The balance on the pitch has looked off, even in the win over Serbia, and Southgate is now facing criticism for the performances.

Speaking exclusively to 101 Great Goals on behalf of BetVictor, Mills said: “If I’m a right-back, I’m looking at Kieran Trippier and going, ‘Go on, ping the ball out there all day long’, because you’re going to have to have a touch, you’re unlikely to run past me because it’s unnatural for you to go down the outside on the left-hand side.

“You’re going to have to have a touch and then come inside and then play an easy ball.

“So the least danger is Kieran Trippier in that scenario because he’s not a natural left-sided attacking player.

“That’s Luke Shaw. Maybe it’s a little bit different because he’s not available at the moment.

“That means that teams can play very, very narrow and you end up with Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Harry Kane, in a very small area and at times it’s easy then for a defender to just go, ‘We just stay where we are, we’re not getting stretched.’

“We’ve only got to move two or three yards every single time.

“Gareth brings on substitutes, he brings on Jarrod Bowen, he brings on Eberechi Eze to try and stretch the game, but still the players don’t recognise that.

“The players have to take responsibility for themselves.

“I played with senior players that no matter what the manager’s instructions and tactics were,  sometimes senior players have to take it upon themselves, going, ‘This isn’t working. For the next five minutes, we’re going to change it slightly, and we’re going to do our own thing.’

“I don’t think there are enough players in that team or that experience or that belief and ability to do that.”

England’s options

England’s bench is stacked full of talent and Southgate may now have to consider using the players who have been waiting patiently for their turn.

Bowen has made two impressive cameo appearances so far, while Eze looked bright for the limited time he got against Denmark.

However, Mills has another name in mind that he thinks should get a look-in.

He added: “Anthony Gordon perhaps on that left-hand side and give him a runout.

“If Luke Shaw’s fit, give him some minutes.  He can be tested at some point and I think you’re better to start with him.

“If he has to come off, it’s as simple as that, that’s not a problem.

“But then you’ve got that dilemma in midfield, how do you work, how do you find the right balance in that midfield?

“It’s been said time and time again, even when I played for England, you have to control the ball in midfield.

“And we didn’t do that particularly well last night. But we’ve got some exceptional talent in there.

“In Rice, in Bellingham and Foden, but we didn’t control the midfield. We didn’t pass it well enough, too many times we gave it away and ran into people trying to take people on in the wrong areas.

“That’s individuals making poor decisions, that not that’s not down to the manager telling them to do that in those areas. So tweak it but not don’t make wholesale changes for me.”

Hoping for a miracle

England were a tournament favourite ahead of the first match in Germany but they will have gone down in many people’s estimations after the first two matches.

But they draw to Scotland in the Euro 2020 group stages and still went on to make the final.

Mills is expecting to see a marked improvement against Slovenia and reminded people that teams have been poor in the opening rounds before and have gone on to win.

He said: “Portugal won European championships and didn’t win a single game in the group. Didn’t win a single game in 90 minutes.

“Do we look back and go, ‘Oh, Portugal were terrible in that Euros?’ No, they won it. And this is what it’s about sometimes.

“In the ideal world, we all want to see wins and an unbelievable performance.

“But I would take unbeaten, scrappy, and get to the knockout stages, and go from there.

“Ultimately, yes, you aren’t going to get away with it continuously if performances aren’t great.

“They have to be better, we know that.  But sometimes you have a poor performance, you get beat. Even if you haven’t done that yet.

“So you still have to think we’re in a good position. We’re still in a strong position. We haven’t been very good, but we’re still top of the group.”


Picture of Mitch Fretton

Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.