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Gareth Southgate confirms England’s clash with Albania will go ahead

The World Cup qualifier on Sunday was at risk of being cancelled (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate has confirmed that England’s World Cup qualifier against Albania on Sunday will go ahead as planned despite fears the match could be cancelled over safety concerns.

Just hours before the Three Lions beat San Marino 5-0 on Thursday night, their next match against Albania at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana was called into doubt.

The City’s police chief had warned the Albanian Football Association (FSHF) that the game could not go head as they ‘could not guarantee’ safety measures.

Gareth Southgate England v San Marino - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

Southgate expects Sunday’s game to go ahead in Albania (Picture: Getty)

Since then, however, the Albanian police have met with the FSHF – who had called the possible cancellation ‘catastrophic’ – and given assurances that they will guarantee public order and safety for the game.

Southgate has had that same information relayed to him and fully expects the match to be played and is preparing his squad to fly to Tirana for Sunday’s game.

‘I didn’t think for one minute it would be in doubt,’ said the England boss after the easy victory over San Marino.

‘We’re flooded by stories like that all the time about various issues and it’s very rare those things come to fruition. I’m told there’s no doubt about the game.’

Prior to Thursday’s game – which saw James Ward-Prowse, Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and debutant Ollie Watkins all net – Southgate had said he could already name his starting XI for this summer’s Euros, though he backtracked on that comment and insists places are still up for grabs.

He continued: ‘I was asked if the game was tomorrow would I know my best team, and the answer to that would be yes.

‘But every game we play, every opportunity to play with clubs, people have the chance to show good form, good level of quality and the opportunity to change that thinking. It would be foolish to pin ourselves to something now when everything is so fluid and things change so quickly.

England v San Marino - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

Southgate hasn’t settled on his starting XI or squad just yet (Picture: Getty)

‘We’ve got lots of really good competition for places and yes there are a couple of different ways we can play, and that flexibility will be important, but the most pleasing thing is the depth.

‘When we have youngsters like Jude [Bellingham] coming on and playing with the type of confidence he did and then to see Ollie come on and get his goal… I think the reaction to his goal in particular told you a lot about this team and this squad.

‘They were so pleased for him. I think they make it easier for young players and new players to come in and be themselves and bed in. I really liked the reaction of the team to his goal.’


MORE :
Gareth Southgate singles out Kalvin Phillips, Mason Mount and Jesse Lingard for praise after England sail past San Marino


MORE : Gareth Southgate explains why he’s dropped Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold from England squad

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