- Absentee-hit England arrived in Skopje with a squad of just 21 players
- The surface at the Tose Proeski Arena was relaid around six weeks ago
- Southgate’s loyalty to his players is an issue and a weakness – It’s All Kicking Off
England have pitch concerns to contend with as Gareth Southgate’s men end the year away to North Macedonia.
Monday’s final Euro 2024 qualifier has little riding on it given qualification was wrapped up last month and a place among the top seeds is all-but assured.
Absentee-hit England arrived in Skopje with a squad of just 21 and club managers may well be watching through their fingers when their players take to the field.
UEFA banned the Tose Proeski Arena from hosting European games in August due to a surface that was then deemed good enough for September’s qualifier against Italy.
But after the 1-1 draw visiting striker Ciro Immobile said the field ‘could be dangerous’, with Macedonia’s Elif Elmas apologising for a ‘frankly shameful pitch’.
England boss Gareth Southgate has just 21 players for Monday’s final Euro 2024 qualifier
The surface at the Tose Proeski Arena in Skopje was relaid around six weeks ago
The surface in Skopje was relaid around six weeks ago but did not look in the best condition on the eve of the England contest.
England boss Southgate said he had not seen the pitch but was aware it had been recently relaid so imagined ‘it hasn’t quite knitted’.
‘That’s why you want to make sure you’re qualified well in advance,’ he said.
‘We said that right at the start of the qualifying campaign, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get away from home.’
Southgate said Premier League managers would be worried about their players irrespective of the pitch.
‘No, we wouldn’t take any chances with players,’ he said.
‘Jarrod Bowen hasn’t travelled. He was just feeling something after training and we didn’t have time to really assess it.
‘It would probably need a scan to give us the confidence that we’re not taking a chance. We never take a chance with a player, really.’