Gareth Southgate urges players not to cross the line with celebrations

Gareth Southgate urges players not to cross the line with celebrations

England boss Gareth Southgate admits there is a line his players cannot cross following Jack Grealish’s treble celebrations.

The manager stopped short of criticising the forward after his partying grabbed the headlines.

Grealish joined his Manchester City team-mates for a night in Ibiza – following Saturday’s 1-0 Champions League win over Inter Milan which sealed the treble – before they returned on Monday ahead of their trophy parade.

The 27-year-old, Phil Foden, Kalvin Phillips, John Stones and Kyle Walker linked up with the England squad on Tuesday ahead of Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier in Malta.

They will not start and Southgate insisted any celebrations should not go over the top.

He said: “There is a line but in our head we weren’t thinking of including the City players for this game.

“I have spoken with the players. We have talked about where the focus needs to be, where we need them to be and acknowledged what they have experienced and that’s for me to manage.

“A few of our players would be teetotal. What is different is that everyone posts everything. I wouldn’t have liked a few of my nights out to be posted publicly. My generation would have a lot more problems.

Manchester City celebrate winning the Champions League
Manchester City celebrate winning the Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

“We know, talking to Hendo (Jordan Henderson), Harry Kane, Tripps (Kieran Trippier) what that game takes out of you.

“It’s a huge occasion and we needed to give those guys the time to take everything in but, point number one, they all wanted to come in to be with the group, which is fantastic.

“I don’t think they would have felt anything unusual about how we have dealt with this and how we have embraced the players back in to the group.

“We have also got the dynamic that while they are chuffed to bits and we are proud of them, a few others are pretty p****d off that they have won it at their expense. You are always really conscious of that.”

England’s last trip to Malta – a World Cup qualifier in 2017 – ended with a 4-0 victory but only after three goals in the final five minutes from Kane, Ryan Bertrand and Danny Welbeck.

It saw fans turn on the team, who were drawing 0-0 at half time, and Southgate remembers the atmosphere, with the squad abused on the coach driving to the stadium, during and after the game.

“Myself and Steve (Holland) were talking about it as we landed because it wasn’t a pleasant journey to the stadium and it was less pleasant going home,” he said.

“I’m not sure everyone knew we had won 4-0, because they were in the bar at 1-0, some at 0-0.

“For us it was a good reference to how far the relationship with the fans has come. The performances of the team are going to ebb and flow, the connection with the fans feels completely different now.

“It doesn’t matter what we have done in the last few years, last few games, we have to go again tomorrow night and make sure that we give our fans something to be excited about.”

Kieran Trippier
Kieran Trippier has called on England to embrace their final games of the season (Nick Potts//PA)

Meanwhile, Kieran Trippier believes the squad needs to embrace their final games of the season.

England, top of Group C, also host North Macedonia at Old Trafford on Monday aiming to solidify their lead following March’s wins over Ukraine and Italy.

It will cap a season which also saw the first winter World Cup in November and December with the Premier League having finished three weeks ago.

“It’s difficult. It has been a tough season for myself and obviously the lads in Europe as well,” said Newcastle defender Trippier.

“We know at the end of the day we are coming away with England and they are two massive games. We want to be going to Germany next year.

“We know the challenges but for me it is easy to flip the switch and get back into that mode again.

“It’s been a good week of training. Everyone is buzzing to be back together and hopefully we can get the result.

“You have to be professional in terms of not doing too much and overloading. It’s about ticking over and just getting yourself in the best possible shape to be with England.”