Exclusive: Mills tells England star to stop ‘looking for fouls’; reveals ‘two or three’ changes he’d make

Joe Williams
Former England defender Danny Mills
Danny Mills has revealed the changes he would make in the next England match.

Danny Mills has called on England captain Harry Kane to “stay further up the pitch”, while he has urged Bukayo Saka to stop “looking for fouls”.

Among the favourites to become kings of the continent three years on from finishing as runners-up, the Three Lions made hard work of beating Serbia 1-0 win in Sunday’s Group C opener.

It meant another victory against Denmark on Thursday evening would seal England’s progress to the round of 16 with a game to spare and wrap up top spot.

But Gareth Southgate’s side were jeered after fumbling that chance in Frankfurt, where they were fortunate to draw 1-1 after Harry Kane’s goal was cancelled out by a Morten Hjulmand stunner.

Despite scoring, Kane has taken a lot of criticism following the draw against Denmark and Mills thinks England have to “stretch” the game more to get the best out of the Bayern Munich striker.

Speaking to Football365 on behalf of BetVictor, Mills said: “He scored but it didn’t really seem to work. He’s gotta stay further up the pitch. He gives the ball away for the goal that we concede in the left back position. What’s he doing there?

“Trent can ping those great passes over the top of full-backs over the top of centre halves for Saka, running in behind or the left hand side player running in behind. But Foden doesn’t really want to do that. He wants to come narrow, inside.

“We need to stretch the game a little bit because then it allows a little bit more space in midfield. It was so congested last night. Every time somebody got the ball, it was touch, tackle. You have a touch, you get tackled.

“It was very, very difficult and that’s why I talk about the physicality from the Danes in that midfield area. They were on to England immediately. England couldn’t get any sort of rhythm going with their passing. They never really controlled the game and dictated the tempo of the play. That’s certainly an area that needs to be worked on.

“Harry Kane needs to stay further up the pitch. The two wide players, whoever that is, make some runs in behind, play some balls down the sides of the defenders to stretch the game a little bit to show that that threat is in behind.

“There was one point where Saka was going down the right hand side in the first half and I’m thinking ‘Just knock the ball past him and run’. He came inside and then ran into the player and looked for a foul and didn’t get it.

“You don’t need to be looking for fouls. You’re much quicker than this. Get the ball in behind the full-back and even if he gets back and tackles you, you’ve stretched the game and you’ve put that defender on the back foot.

“We just need to be a little bit braver and simplify it and just say, ‘I’ve got pace to burn. I’m gonna run in behind you.’ Simple as that. That’s not hoof ball. That’s specific, playing 20 or 30-odd passes inside defenders for people to run onto.”

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When asked what changes he would make for England’s final Group C match against Slovenia, Mills added: “Probably two or three, max. I would bring Anthony Gordon or Eze on the left hand side. Gordon would be my preference.

“The way that he plays, he likes to get it and run at people and dribble constantly. Gordon might give some good balance on that left hand side. Luke Shaw, if he’s fit enough, I would give him a go at left back.

“He needs to be tested and it’s always better to start with him, cos if he has to come off after 10 minutes, he has to come off. There’s nothing worse than putting a player on 60 minutes into the game and have to come off after 10 minutes.

“You’ve got enough substitutions so give Luke Shaw a go and let’s see where he’s at. He can give us that balance on the left hand side. Put Kobbie Mainoo into the midfield area.

On the left, you’ve gotta sacrifice Phil Foden. I don’t think you’re going to sacrifice Jude Bellingham. Unless you drop Saka and put Foden on the right hand side. Perhaps that could be an option. It’s two or three tweaks, certainly not wholesale changes.”