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Is the current injury crisis the true test for Southgate?

As the Three Lions gear up to host Belgium tonight, Gareth Southgate spoke on the state of fitness with his current group, stating that "I haven't experienced that before".

This is an intriguing point as it provides the perspective for fans that Southgate has always had the squad he has wanted since his appointment, typically at full health and fitness. However, with the likes of Jack Grealish, Harry Kane and Kyle Walker, it provides to be a test to see if Southgate can adapt to these spontaneous situations.

For context, Southgate had one managerial job prior to joining the England ranks, which was a three year stint at Middlesborough which ended as a result of the club's relegation from the Premier League with him at the helm. Given the fact that he has been heavily linked with the Manchester United job, this is a ultimate test to see if Southgate would truly be ready to enter into club football at a high level.

In his first match through this "injury crisis", England succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Brazil at Wembley. In the game, England were lacking in the chance creation department, having only created one big chance throughout the whole match. Meanwhile, Brazil had created seven big chances throughout the game and even converted one to win the game.

A big part of the lack of chances could be how unfamiliar some players could be with the system they were playing in. Anthony Gordon started the game, gaining his first cap for his country and may have been unfamiliar with how Southgate wants him to play in games. Although this game was evidently a friendly, it is still a reminder that the depth and the individual quality that the England squad have may not automatically equate to quality and results on the pitch as they will need to get used to the tactics of Southgate the same way that the usual starters for England do.

However, Southgate has time to introduce these players to the gameplan with there being 10 weeks until the European Championships kick off in Germany for England where they play Serbia. Along with this, they have two friendly games prior to the tournament with one against Bosnia and Herzegovina at St. James' Park on June 3rd and then they play Iceland at Wembley Stadium on the 7th of June. These friendly matches should give these players the practice to get familiar with the tactics used by the Three Lions before they fly to Germany to compete for the European Championships.

All in all, it should be an interesting Euros and one in which Southgate may face his toughest test yet.

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