England: Keane claims Southgate is now ‘under huge pressure’ to start star in last 16

Joe Williams
Roy Keane on England
Roy Keane thinks Gareth Southgate will have a hard time not starting Cole Palmer

Roy Keane thinks England boss Gareth Southgate will now face “huge pressure” to play Chelsea attacker Cole Palmer in their last-16 match after his impact off the bench against Slovenia.

Having wrapped up a place in the last 16 without kicking a ball on Monday evening, the Group C finale against Slovenia offered the chance to lift the England mood after an unconvincing start in Germany.

But the hard-fought 1-0 win against Serbia and alarming 1-1 draw with Denmark were followed by another disappointing night, with Southgate’s side stuttering to a 0-0 draw against stubborn opposition.

The stalemate proved enough to top the pool as the other group game also ended scoreless, but boos met the end of their second straight match.

One bright spark was the introduction of Chelsea attacking midfielder Palmer off the bench on 71 minutes for Bukayo Saka with the 22-year-old injecting some urgency and guile to the England XI.

And former Manchester United captain Keane thinks it will be hard to leave Palmer out after his positive performance as a substitute.

“He’ll be under huge pressure to play Palmer in the next game because he came on tonight and affected the game,” Keane told ITV Sport.

“They are struggling to get that flow of the game. But they are keeping clean sheets and a couple of young players came on tonight and maybe that’s the way to go. I always say with young players, they have got no fear, just go with them sometimes.”

Speaking of Palmer after the match, Southgate said: “He did very good.

“He finds space well and he makes chances and we were backing him to score at the end. They are young players and we are blooding them in a difficult environment. They had a good impact for us and did good things for us.

“Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer, Kobbie Mainoo, it was a really good move. We have to build on that. There were a lot of things to build on from tonight.”

Some empty cups were thrown towards Southgate by England fans at the final whistle but the Three Lions boss insists he understands the fans’ frustration.

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Southgate added: “I understand it. I’m not going to back away from it.

“The most important thing here is that the supporters stay with the team. I understand the sort of narrative towards me and, you know, that’s better for the team than it being towards them.

“But it is creating an unusual environment to operate in. I’ve not seen any other team qualify and receive similar.

“So, I understand it, I’m not going to back away from it, but I’m very, very proud of the players and how they are operating within it.”