Gareth Southgate has praised Chelsea loan star Conor Gallagher after he made his England debut on Saturday, though says his partnership with Mason Mount left the Three Lions ‘vulnerable’ and necessitated a tactical switch.
England went behind early on against Switzerland at Wembley but Gallagher – who has shone on loan at Crystal Palace in the Premier League this season – set up Luke Shaw on the stroke of half-time to level the scores.
The home side looked the more likely team to find a winner in the second half and finally got it in the 78th minute as Harry Kane became England’s joint-second all-time topscorer from the penalty spot to secure a 2-1 victory.
Gallagher did not look at all out of place on the international stage and worked tirelessly off the ball, though Southgate says his midfield partnership with Chelsea teammate Mount created some defensive issues – which could also be a problem for Thomas Tuchel next season.
‘We feel that Mount and Gallagher are very good at pressing and are two attacking 8s,’ Southgate told Sky Sports after the match.
‘But we know that that system can leave you a bit vulnerable to the switches to the opposite full-back and the Swiss worked that out very well – which is why we made the change of shape in the second half.
‘But we had an idea of what we wanted to do, and although we would have liked to have Bukayo Saka and a couple of the other wing-backs to look at that, I still think it was worth seeing.’
Despite those reservations about using Gallagher alongside another attack-minded midfielder such as Mount, Southgate was effusive in his praise of the 22-year-old.
Southgate continued: ‘He’s infectious, isn’t he? I think he can set the tone for the rest of the team, we see that with his club every week.
‘He presses with ambitious. Some players get close to people and don’t actually win the ball. He goes and he makes contact and he turns a lot of ball over.
‘In the first half that was important. We actually didn’t use that ball well enough. We had three or four moments in attacking transitions where, with a better pass or a better decision, we should have capitalised before we did on the first goal.’
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