Former England defender Gary Pallister believes England have what it takes to beat Italy – but insists manager Gareth Southgate is under pressure after defeat to Hungary.
The Three Lions succumbed to a shock 1-0 defeat in Budapest on Saturday, before needing a late Harry Kane penalty to salvage a draw against Germany in midweek.
However, those performances have not dented Pallister’s faith in Southgate’s side – and he is backing them to secure a victory in their upcoming Nations League clash with the Azzurri.
England To Beat Italy
Speaking exclusively to Lord Ping, he said: “It'll be interesting to see what side he [Southgate] plays.
“I'm sure there'll be changes, it's been a long season for the players. I think we're seeing tired performances from the players.
“It's a really difficult one to judge, Italy have had some crazy results since they won the Euros and didn't qualify for the World Cup. They're rebuilding I guess.
“I really don't know, I think England are capable of beating anybody so I'm going to plump for an England win against Italy.”
Southgate Always Under Pressure
But Pallister is unsure if his faith in Southgate’s ability is matched in other quarters.
When asked if the former Middlesbrough manager is under pressure, he said: “You'd think so. You get beat 1-0 by Hungary, and all of a sudden the world has caved in.
“I think he's done a terrific job with England. They've got to a final and a semi-final, why should Gareth Southgate be under pressure?
“I guess you could say the England manager is always under pressure. It's always been the case.
“We make it a very difficult job for people at times. I don't think everybody enjoys being England manager, a couple of defeats and people are looking for your head on a block.
“I think Gareth has been a breath of fresh air, he's had some breaks in tournaments with the draws and things like that but he's got to a final and a semi-final, so in recent form with him in charge, they've done really well.
“I don't think he's under pressure from the FA. He'll always be under pressure from the media and the likes.
“I think he's done enough to earn a lot of respect with what he's done with England.”
Nations League Selections
And Pallister was pleased with Southgate’s squad selection for this summer’s Nations League fixtures – suggesting that the 51-year-old is not afraid to make big calls when they are required.
“The thing I like about Gareth Southgate is that he's not swayed by who people are, the big names,” he explained.
“If you aren't playing well for your club, you are not involved in the England squad.
“We've seen that with Marcus Rashford. He's done well in an England shirt, he's not playing well for Manchester United at the moment and they've left him out.
“He's not afraid to make big decisions, he's not like 'right, you've done this before, you've got that reputation, you're going to be part of the squad' – if you're not performing for your club, he's not picking you.
“People might say about Harry Maguire, he's never let England down – he's playing week in week out, still for United, he's going to pick him. He was in the European Championship team of the tournament at the end of the Euros.
“There's still time for players to play themselves into the squad, the ones who aren't in there feel as though they are disappointed. But there's still time, still another five or so months before the World Cup kicks off.
“If you perform for your club and you're English, Gareth is going to give you a chance. It's all to play for, for the lads who want to play and be involved in the World Cup.”
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