Southgate ‘harsh’ decision slammed with Chelsea man’s ‘confidence knocked’ after England draw

Jason Soutar
Jack Wilshere says Conor Gallagher's confidence will be knocked after lasting 45 minutes for England against Slovenia
Conor Gallagher will have received a knock to his confidence, says Jack Wilshere

England midfielder Conor Gallagher’s confidence will have taken a hit after he lasted only 45 minutes against Slovenia on Tuesday night, says Jack Wilshere.

It was reported over the weekend that Gareth Southgate would start Chelsea vice-captain Gallagher, 24, in midfield against Slovenia and that proved to be his only change for the goalless draw in Cologne.

The Chelsea star came in for Trent Alexander-Arnold with Southgate’s “experiment” of putting the Liverpool right-back in midfield failing.

Many people were calling for either Kobbie Mainoo or Adam Wharton to start instead of Gallagher, or for Jude Bellingham to move deeper to allow Phil Foden to play in the 10 with Bukayo Saka and Anthony Gordon on either side of him.

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Southgate obviously did nothing of the sort, looking to bring more energy to the team by starting the 24-year-old next to Declan Rice.

Gallagher was hooked by Southgate at half-time as the England manager admitted defeat after naming the wrong starting XI versus the Slovenians.

Mainoo replaced him and the Three Lions immediately improved, with the Manchester United teenager completing more passes within 20 minutes of coming on than Gallagher did in the entire first 45.

Southgate was ‘harsh’ to bring off Gallagher in England draw – Wilshere

Former England midfielder Wilshere was impressed with Mainoo off the bench and admits he wanted the 19-year-old to start the match on Tuesday night.

Despite this, the ex-Arsenal man said Southgate’s decision to bring Gallagher off was “harsh” and believes it will knock the player’s confidence for the rest of Euro 2024.

“Kobbie Mainoo was always my preference to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold in England’s midfield,” Wilshere explained.

“I think he showed why in the second half tonight. But I still feel that it was harsh on Conor Gallagher that he was taken off at half time.

“Firstly because it was probably our best half of the tournament. And secondly, because it didn’t feel like a Gareth Southgate thing to do.

“It will knock Gallagher’s confidence for sure. He will have thought that this was his chance, but he only gets a half.

“Having said that, despite the disappointing result, the second half was better and Mainoo proved he is the man – or boy – to play there in future.

“He’s only 19 but he understands the game so well and knows what it needs.

“He is better on the ball than Gallagher and he also allowed Declan Rice to get forward even more in the second half than he had in the first.”

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