England players free to BOYCOTT World Cup 2018, admits Gareth Southgate

GARETH SOUTHGATE will give England players the option to withdraw from the World Cup if they are worried about travelling to Russia.

Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by Express.co.uk

England players free to BOYCOTT World Cup 2018, admits Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has brought in some new faces to his England squad for the upcoming friendlies

As the diplomatic crisis deepened on Thursday Southgate called for the safety of both players and fans, with the possibility of boycotting the World Cup in Russia continuing to overshadow England.

Southgate named his squad for the forthcoming international double header against Holland and Italy and, understandably, it will be the main topic of conversation when the players report for duty on Monday.

And the manager revealed that players who were uncertain about the safety of travelling to Russia would always be allowed to opt out.

"The situation with Russia is probably something I would raise with them just because it is so visible at the moment,” he said. “It is important whenever there is speculation and uncertainty that you put it into context for everybody.

"However, it’s always an individual decision. You select and you assume everyone wants to go, but that doesn’t always happen. I would never pressure any individual. They are all grown-ups and can make their own decision.

"Clearly it’s a really serious matter and it’s developing very quickly. As far as all my briefings and information is, we’re preparing to go to the World Cup, there’s no doubt in our mind that’s what we should be doing.

"And the only thing at this stage that is of highest importance is the safety and security of our players and absolutely of our travelling supporters. So, they’re the things we’re focused on.

"I will always be aware of what’s going on in the world but my focus has to be on the things I can control.”

To that end, he caused something of stir by dropping his former captain Gary Cahill and calling up uncapped Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Alfie Mawson and Lewis Cook.

England players free to BOYCOTT World Cup 2018, admits Gareth Southgate
Jack Wilshire has been recalled to the England squad

But there is no doubt that the political ramifications with Russia will overshadow preparations, with the FA set to remain in close liaison with the Foreign Office.

"Well, we’re all human beings and we’re all effected by events around us and things that might distract us from our job,” said Southgate. “It’s unrealistic to think any other of anybody in any profession.

"So that’s why it’s important as a manager that I have the right support around the players, around the support team as well because they’re in the same position.”

England will take a chef with them to oversee preparation of all food consumed by the players while at the tournament but Southgate was at pains to point out that these days that is a standard precaution.

England players free to BOYCOTT World Cup 2018, admits Gareth Southgate
Gary Cahill has been dropped from the England squad after a poor run of form for Chelsea

Jack Wilshere also returned from an 18-month exile with Southgate also keeping faith in goalkeeper Joe Hart. Furthermore, he was cautious about security becoming too heavy-handed.

"We always take a chef away with us and part of his responsibility is to source the produce,” he said.

"That is standard procedure with the senior team and some of the junior teams when they travel as well.

"I’ve travelled the world and been to countries where I’ve been warned about where to walk and where to go.

"Two days later, I have ended up running down the street because I have realised you can live in fear or you can get on with things.

"I am not one to be inhibited by travelling to foreign countries where there have been issues.

"In my experience all countries have areas of difficulty and all countries have areas where you feel very free.”



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