Gareth Southgate says he might retire if England win Euro 2024 - as he defends leaving Marcus Rashford out of squad

21 May 2024, 14:34 | Updated: 21 May 2024, 22:05

Gareth Southgate insists he is only focused on leading England to glory at Euro 2024 and not his future, telling Sky News: "If we can do that, maybe I'll retire and do nothing anyway."

The tournament in Germany next month will be Southgate's fourth in charge.

It comes after he led England to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and quarter-final in 2022, and to the final of the Euros at Wembley in 2021 - which the side lost on penalties.

Asked if it would be his decision or the Football Association's whether to sign a new contract, Southgate said: "I imagine both. That's always as we've worked."

Speaking during an interview at England's St George's Park HQ, he added: "But, the reality of that is we focus totally on this tournament. I've worked in this building for over 10 years and, yeah, the ambition has been to win a tournament.

"So, there's nothing for us to consider until we've done that. And if we can do that, maybe I'll retire and do nothing anyway."

Southgate has been linked with the top job at Manchester United - which is not vacant yet - in a potential return to club coaching 15 years after he left Middlesbrough.

However, Southgate said he would not be considering any other option before completing his Euros mission in Germany.

He said: "I've never spoken with a club in all my time in the job - I think that would be disrespectful to the position I hold.

"When you've worked so long and so hard for the opportunity to take your country and lead them with a chance to win something, then your focus has got to be 100% on that. And that's where mine is."

Big names left out

It came as Southgate named his provisional 33-strong squad for the tournament with 26 days to go until England play their opener against Serbia.

However, several big names - including Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson - have been left out.

The squad will be cut to a maximum of 26 players by 7 June.

Rashford has been to the last four major tournaments but has struggled for form at Manchester United this season.

Henderson, a veteran of six tournaments, joined Ajax in January after making a controversial move to Saudi side Al-Ettifaq last summer.

Raheem Sterling was also left out, with Chelsea team-mates Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Levi Colwill also omitted.

There was also no room for Eric Dier, despite some impressive form for Bayern Munich since his January move from Tottenham.

'These are difficult calls'

Southgate said: "With Marcus, I just feel that other players in that area of the pitch have had better seasons, strong seasons.

"With Jordan, he's had an injury for five or six weeks out in Holland, and in the period he's had hasn't been able to get the physical intensity back, that we feel we need going into a tournament.

"Physically they're really demanding and to go seven games, which we've done twice, we know what that's taken. So, that has to be a big criteria as well, when we're selecting.

"These are difficult calls, you are talking about players who are very good players who have been an important part of what we have done.

"Making those calls is of course difficult for me, but more difficult for them. But they were really professional, very mature in how they took that.

"I know that's a tough call for them and they've been, you know, one of those guys and a huge part of some big nights with us and a huge part of the success the team has had to this point."

Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Anthony Gordon and Bukayo Saka were all selected despite recent injury concerns, and Luke Shaw has also been included.

Asked about Kane's fitness, he responded: "I think there was a sensible decision taken for him not to play the final game with Bayern Munich, but our understanding is he should be good to go as soon as he arrives to training."

Liverpool youngsters Curtis Jones and Jarell Quansah have been included for the first time, while there is a first call-up for Adam Wharton.

The Crystal Palace midfielder is joined in the squad by team-mates Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi and Dean Henderson.

Southgate says the number of injuries will affect the make-up of the final squad.

"It's been complicated," he said. "We would have liked to have had a slightly smaller group, and be able to define things a little earlier.

"But we have got quite a complex injury situation, and we'll be able to make better decisions in a couple of weeks. The other side of that is that's allowed us to put perhaps more young players in who will have brilliant experience, but also can force their way into the reckoning as well."

England supporters will be out in force

This will be the first overseas tournament since Euro 2016 when England will be supported by vast numbers of travelling fans.

The manager said: "They are ambassadors as we are for the country and we hope they enjoy their football and the whole experience of following England.

"It is a moment that unites people, that's one of the great privileges about being involved with international football. And it's brilliant that people are excited about the team.

"Seven, eight years ago, it didn't quite feel the same. But now I think there's a strong connection, there's an excitement. I think people like the way that the players play. And, we hope we can take everybody on another brilliant journey."

England squad in full

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), James Trafford (Burnley)

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace)

Forwards: Jude Bellingham, (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)