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Watch: England coach Southgate lauds Malta progress

England manager Gareth Southgate (left) and Kieran Trippier. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Three Lions are looking to make a clean sweep during the June international window with Gareth Southgate’s side eyeing two victories over Malta and North Macedonia.

The Euro 2020 runners-up produced a solid start to their Group C qualifying campaign for next summer’s European Championships having defeated Italy, the current Euro holders, in Naples before having the better of Ukraine at Wembley Stadium.

For Southgate, it is imperative that his selection score as many points as possible to avoid any unexpected hiccups late in their qualifying journey.

On paper, Malta should not provide any trouble for an England side that boasts some of the best footballers across the world, but Southgate is still wary of the progress of Michele Marcolini’s team.

Ranked 172nd in the world, Malta is on the back of a narrow victory over Luxembourg (91st in the rankings) with England keeping a close eye on that game.

England manager Gareth Southgate speaks to a press conference ahead of their match against Malta. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

“We have watched all the recent games that Malta played, including their latest one against Luxembourg,” Southgate told a news conference.

“We had Steve Holland (assistant manager) at the Luxembourg friendly as well.

They are a very well-organised team under the new coach, they are tough to score against and they are also able to create goal-scoring opportunities, but our players are prepared for the challenge.”

Newcastle United full-back Kieran Trippier echoed his coach’s thoughts, underlying that the England team has a lot of respect towards Malta but they are prepared to take on the field and clinch three points.

Asked about whether he has decided on his starting formation, Southgate confirmed that Trippier is given the nod.

“Everybody’s fit. All available,” he said.

Nonetheless, he has still some considerations about the Manchester City quintet that last Saturday triumphed in Istanbul’s Champions League final.

Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Kalvin Phillips only linked up with the squad on Tuesday.

“We are going to have to take it bit by bit and see how they are,” the Three Lions coach said.

“They are all available for tomorrow but I have yet to decide if that is a good decision.

“It is always complicated, the decisions you have to make. The team has trained really well, the focus has been excellent and we are looking forward to the game.”

Meanwhile, youngster Lewis Colwill has travelled with the senior side before he joins the U-21’s selection for next week’s European Championships.

“We wanted to have him with us for the week,” Southgate explained.

“We lost Lewis Dunk and were a defender short. He will stay with us until we get back to Manchester where we can assess where we are within this group and who is available for the next game. He has done really well, we know he is a good player. We have been really impressed with his mentality and his ability.”

Trippier, on his part, spoke about Jude Bellingham’s move to Madrid where the former used to play but in Atletico Madrid’s colours.

“Me and Jude (Bellingham) have had loads of conversations,” he said.

“I said go and embrace it, the lifestyle, an amazing opportunity for him to play for one of the biggest sides in the world.”

Bellingham, who started his career at Birmingham City, completed a six-year-deal move to Real Madrid for a fee of over 100m euro.

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