Germany's youthful side were in slick form against Iceland but outgoing head coach Joachim Low expects more from their next two World Cup qualifiers.

Iceland proved no match for Low's side on Thursday, with early goals from Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz paving the way for a comfortable triumph before Ilkay Gundogan rounded out a 3-0 success.

Led by the imperious Joshua Kimmich, Germany dominated throughout.

They had 81.5 per cent possession, attempted 1,053 passes – at an accuracy of 92.3 per cent – and had 15 shots compared to Iceland's eight, with Manuel Neuer only called into action twice.

From his position at the base of midfield, versatile Bayern Munich star Kimmich controlled proceedings, tallying up 176 touches, 150 successful passes and a team-high three crosses, one of which should have resulted in a goal for Antonio Rudiger.

Only Gundogan (four) played more key passes than Kimmich, who was integral to Germany's first two goals, playing sublime balls into Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane as the hosts took a 2-0 lead by the seventh minute – the first time they have led by two goals that early in a competitive fixture since May 1969.

It marked a 17th successive win for Germany in World Cup qualifiers, a new team record.

But Low was not entirely pleased with Germany's display, telling RTL: "In the second half, we played too many passes backwards and missed some moments to trigger momentum and pick up speed.

"I see opportunities for improvement in our game. What made us strong in the first half – a lot of movement without the ball, a lot of deep runs – that wasn't quite the case in the second half.

"We have to see that we keep up the pace and can last for over 90 minutes. That will be important at the Euros."

Despite Low's concerns, Germany did much of their passing in Iceland's half.

Indeed, only Havertz (31), Gnabry and Lukas Klostermann (both 28) among the hosts' outfield starters attempted fewer passes in Iceland's half than Aron Gunnarsson – who led the distribution metrics for the visitors – managed in all areas of the field (33, only 22 of which were successful).

Low, who is departing after the Euros, has received criticism in some quarters following a difficult 2020, and for his decision to ostracise 2014 World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.

The 61-year-old has hinted the door could be open for the trio to return at the rearranged tournament, though for now he is sticking with youth, handing Jamal Musiala – who would also have been eligible for England – his debut late on.

Aged 18 years and 27 days, the Bayern attacker is the youngest Germany player since Uwe Seeler in October 1954.

"For the most part, I'm satisfied," Low said.

"We started very energetically and dynamically, we wanted to set an example. The team has the right attitude right from the start."

Germany made a comfortable start to their World Cup qualifying campaign as early goals from Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz paved the way for a 3-0 win over Iceland.

News of Joachim Low's upcoming departure after the Euros dominated the build-up to Germany's Group J opener, though a vibrant performance proved the quality the outgoing boss has at his disposal heading into his final tournament.

Goretzka and Havertz had Germany 2-0 up after just seven minutes – the quickest Die Mannschaft have been two goals ahead in a competitive match since May 1969, when Gerd Muller and Wolfang Overath struck against Cyprus.

In-form Ilkay Gundogan arrowed in his 13th goal of 2021 for club and country midway through the second half, wrapping up a convincing triumph.

A 6-0 defeat to Spain rounded off a frustrating 2020 for Germany, but they made a fantastic start to 2021. Iceland had only touched the ball twice by the time Goretzka drilled home the opener from the centre of the area – Serge Gnabry having cushioned Joshua Kimmich's lofted pass into the midfielder's path.

Kimmich was the architect of Germany's second goal five minutes later with a wonderful throughball to release Leroy Sane, who squared for Havertz to finish coolly.

Germany's lead seemed set to be halved when Runar Mar Sigurjonsson's shot took a wicked deflection off Antonio Rudiger but the ball dropped inches wide.

Kimmich should have had an assist to his name prior to half-time, only for Rudiger to head wide from the midfielder's inch-perfect cross.

Aron Gunnarsson could have done better with a free header shortly after the interval, and any lingering Iceland hopes were swiftly dashed when Gundogan found the bottom-left corner.

Havertz had a goal disallowed for offside and Gnabry hit the post after latching onto another sublime Kimmich pass, but there was no further punishment for new Iceland coach Arnar Vidarsson.

A Germany player has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of their World Cup qualifying clash with Iceland on Thursday. 

The individual - whose identity has not been revealed - did not have any symptoms and was immediately sent into isolation, the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed. 

Germany's bid to reach the 2022 World Cup kicks off against Iceland in Duisburg, followed by clashes with Romania and North Macedonia on Sunday and Wednesday respectively.  

A statement from the DFB read: "The strict hygiene concept of the DFB is aimed at avoiding category 1 contacts. The measures that are being implemented include the permanent wearing of FFP2 masks, except when eating at the table.  

"[Also] Staying in closed rooms in fixed, narrow time windows, keeping a distance in all functional rooms in the hotel, using two team buses and several vans for trips to the training ground, as well as close-knit testing.

"Since the meeting of the national team on Monday, two PCR and one antigen rapid tests have taken place in the team hotel." 

National team director Oliver Bierhoff added: "Of course, this news is bitter so shortly before the game – for the coach and the entire team. 

"But we are confident that this will remain the case, as we have taken all hygiene measures so far and have been very disciplined. Of course, we will implement all the requirements of the authorities."

 

Germany head coach Joachim Low has revealed he is planning to learn Spanish in the future but insisted he does not have a club job in LaLiga lined up.

Low will step down as Germany boss after this year's European Championships after the German Football Association (DFB) agreed to his request to leave the position early.

His contract originally ran to the 2022 World Cup but Low will instead depart after the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament which starts in June this year.

The 61-year-old has been at the helm since 2006 when he replaced Jurgen Klinsmann and guided his country to World Cup success in 2014.

Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday ahead of World Cup qualifiers with Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia, Low quashed talk of a job in Spanish football.

"I was thinking about it a little while ago. But this hasn't anything to do with a club," Low said.

"You could use Spanish in the whole world. In South America, Europe and the USA you could always use it. After English, it is a very important language. 

"I like the language and wanted to learn it at some point. Maybe I will have the chance to deepen that in the future. But that hasn't anything to do with a Spanish club, it is a useful language to know, though."

Low has taken charge of 189 games for Germany and overseen 120 wins, 38 draws and 31 defeats with a win percentage of 63.49.

The build-up to the Thursday's clash with Iceland in Duisburg has been dominated by talk of who will succeed Low, but midfielder Emre Can insisted the players have not been distracted.

"I think for us players it's almost irrelevant. It's more a topic for the media," Can said.

"Football players are always under pressure when we play for the national team and participate at tournaments. It doesn't matter if there is debate around the coach or not. 

"The coach has made his decision and for sure he is highly motivated for the European Championships, obviously we want to play a successful European Championships for his farewell."

Hansi Flick, who won a remarkable sextuple in his first year as Bayern Munich's head coach, has been mooted as the DFB's preferred successor to Low.

The 56-year-old was Low's assistant coach for almost eight years, from August 2006 to July 2014, leaving his role after Germany's World Cup triumph.

Bayern have been the form side in Europe in Flick's time in charge, and despite a shock exit in the DFB-Pokal earlier this season, are still well in the hunt for a Bundesliga and Champions League double.

However, Bayern and Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich does not expect his club boss to instead become his national team manager.

"Hansi Flick has a contract and we are incredibly successful here," Kimmich told Bild. "That's why I do not assume that he will."

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has withdrawn from the Germany squad for their upcoming fixtures because of an adductor injury.

The 31-year-old linked up with his national side on Monday for the World Cup qualifiers with Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

However, Germany confirmed on Tuesday that Kroos has returned to Madrid as a precautionary measure and will play no part in any of their games over the next eight days.

"Our medical department has examined and treated Toni intensively," said head coach Joachim Low, who will step down from his position at the end of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.

"He would have liked to stay with us, and I am reluctant to be without him. But with a view to the Euros, we decided that the full recovery from this injury must be a priority."

Kroos earned his 100th cap for Germany in October's 3-3 draw with Switzerland and has featured 35 times in all competitions for Madrid this season.

He previously missed two games earlier this season with a gluteal injury, seeing him play no part in the league wins over Real Valladolid and Levante.

Germany are also without Niklas Sule and Robin Gosens for Thursday's clash with Iceland in Duisburg, the pair unavailable with thigh and muscular problems respectively.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by talk of who will succeed Low as the next Germany head coach, but Manuel Neuer insists it will be business as usual on the field.

"We had a short team meeting and are concentrating on our tasks," he said. "We have to be well prepared for the European Championship and will use every game to do that.

"We cannot make any more mistakes. We have a strong group, against some strong opponents, so every game is a final from the start.

"Of course now we want to crown this era with a success. The coach deserves that to end with a success after the successful years.

"He is is very motivated and ambitious. It's not that he thinks he's going to retire. He's enthusiastic. He wants to quit as national coach as successfully as possible."

Under-21s boss Stefan Kuntz is among the frontrunners to replace Low, who has been at the helm since 2006 and guided his country to World Cup success in 2014.

Ralf Rangnick and Hansi Flick, who manages Neuer at club level with Bayern, are also in the running, while Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have distanced themselves.

Asked about the candidates for one of the top jobs in football, Neuer said: "A national coach must have experience and must have done one or the other in German football. 

"He should know the Bundesliga. It's not about what we think, but about the goals that we have in front of us."

England midfielder Jack Grealish is embracing comparisons to Paul Gascoigne after continuing his impressive form against Iceland.

Grealish helped England complete their Nations League campaign with a 4-0 victory at Wembley on Wednesday.

The Aston Villa star made three key passes and was fouled six times – three more than any other player – as Phil Foden scored twice after goals from Declan Rice and Mason Mount.

Amid comparisons to former England star Gascoigne, Grealish welcomed the comparisons, but said he still had work to do.

"I thrive off those kinds of comparisons. I love Gazza. I've watched his documentary on Netflix about a million times," he said.

"I love his character, on the pitch and off the pitch. I love the way he played football, such a freedom and such a joy. You know, you've you hear so many people speak about him and say it was just a joy to watch.

"And I think that's the biggest compliment that you can have, when people say to me, it's just a joy to watch you, you know that makes me happy, because that's what I want to do. I just want to entertain people but I also want to be effective on the pitch just like Gazza was.

"But obviously those comparisons are far away, because I've not even played a tournament. Like he thrived on the biggest stage. And until I do that, I think I can't really be compared to him at the moment."

The win over Iceland was Grealish's fifth international appearance, and he has impressed in the Nations League, with only Harry Kane (eight) creating more chances from open play than his six for England.

Grealish has faced criticism for off-field issues in the past, but the 25-year-old said he was growing and learning.

"Years ago I didn't really think it was like a thing on the pitch, it was more off the pitch where I still thought I was just Jack from Solihull that I could just go out and do what I want," he said.

"As you get older, you probably learn that you're a hero to a lot of young lads, you're a role model. And you need to obviously watch what you're doing and that's not saying that I still won't make mistakes because, you know, I probably will.

"But I feel like I've grown up over the years and hopefully now I can carry on doing that as captain of a Premier League club. So, I was gonna take it all in my stride because at the moment I just absolutely love my life."

England manager Gareth Southgate is happy to have a selection headache as he prepares for Euro 2020 next year, after the Three Lions' youngsters starred against Iceland.

Records tumbled at Wembley in Wednesday's Nations League encounter, with England winning 4-0.

Declan Rice opened his international account, with Mason Mount doubling England's tally before Phil Foden – who had created the opener – scored his first goals for his country to complete the rout.

The only players aged 30 or older in England's starting XI were Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, Southgate starting four players – Foden, Mount, Rice and Bukayo Saka – aged 21 or younger; the first time the Three Lions have done so in a competitive match since November 1959.

His faith was repaid, with all of them turning in impressive displays as England dominated from start to finish, controlling 78.3 per cent of the possession, while Jack Grealish was again in superb form from a free role on the left flank.

Grealish, 25, won six fouls, meaning he has drawn 21 in total since his debut for England in September, more than any other player in that time.

Rice, meanwhile, is the first West Ham player to score for England since Matthew Upson against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, while the midfielder is also the second-youngest Hammer – after Joe Cole – to net for the Three Lions.

Two of Mount's three goals this season have come for his country, and with Foden's late double, three players aged 21 or under netted in the same match for England for the first time since February 1883 against Ireland, when William Cobbold, Oliver Whateley and Frank Pawson found the net.

Foden is the youngest player in the history of the England national team to score more than once in a match at Wembley.

He also became the youngest player to score and assist in a match for England since Marcus Rashford in September 2017.

With Southgate's 3-4-3 system finally clicking against Iceland, the debate will now turn to whether it is the formation the England manager should use heading into the Euros.

Jadon Sancho came on from the bench, as did Tammy Abraham, while in-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin was an unused substitute.

Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford were missing altogether, and with Mount, Grealish and Foden all looking sharp, Southgate has a plethora of attacking options to choose from, without factoring in the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Maddison.

However, it is a headache he is happy to deal with.

Southgate told Sky Sports: "I think over the last few days their talent has been outstanding. It was a very difficult game, all the players were hearing messages that this is meaningless and there was nothing to play for but they did play for it, there were big opportunities for young players but also for some older players.

"We're still trying to build and improve all the time. There was lovely football and it was good to watch and it was good for the young ones to get the goals – very special for them.

"The squad that we've had over the last three months is going to peak in the next three to five years and they'll get a lot more club experience and international experience. We'll invest the time in them. There are some very good senior professionals as well.

"We are still working on the balance of players for the system. Our attacking play was very, very good. If it's a headache about having good players in the side then that's a good one to have."

One down side for England was captain Harry Kane failing to score from five attempts – none of which hit the target.

Wednesday is the only day of the week Kane is yet to score on for England, the Tottenham star having attempted 12 shots in three such games, but failing to land a single one on goal.

Phil Foden opened his England account with a double as Gareth Southgate's side ended their Nations League campaign on a high with a 4-0 victory over 10-man Iceland.

Defeat to Belgium on Sunday had ensured Wednesday's Group A2 meeting at Wembley was a dead rubber, but England's youthful team nevertheless turned in an impressive display.

Making his first competitive England appearance since breaking coronavirus protocol after a victory over Iceland in September, Foden marked his return in style, setting up Declan Rice's opener before adding further gloss to a routine win with a superbly taken brace.

Mason Mount had doubled England's tally, with Birkir Mar Saevarsson's red card for a second bookable offence all but ending any comeback hopes for outgoing Iceland coach Erik Hamren.

For differing reasons, Jack Grealish and Foden were the big stories heading into the game and the two playmakers combined for England's 20th-minute opener.

Rice was the benefactor, heading in his maiden England goal from Foden's free-kick, which was won by Grealish, who moments later teed up Bukayo Saka.

The Arsenal youngster failed to beat Ogmundur Kristinsson, but Mount made no such mistake with England's next chance, coolly prodding in after latching onto Harry Kane's knockdown.

Harry Maguire's marauding run forward resulted in a fine pass through for Foden, whose shot was charged down by Kristinsson, who then denied the midfielder again before Kane curled wide.

Iceland's hopes seemed to have been extinguished nine minutes into the second half – Saevarsson receiving a second yellow for pulling back Saka.

Kari Arnason might have changed that, yet he headed wide from Ari Freyr Skulason's corner.

Yet England had the third goal their dominance deserved in the 80th minute when Foden swept home from Jadon Sancho's cutback.

The 20-year-old Foden was not done there, however, and capped off a fine individual display with a thumping strike into the bottom-right corner.

What does it mean? Southgate's system finally clicks

England have now remained unbeaten in their final game of a calendar year in each of the last seven years (W5 D2), since a 1-0 defeat to Germany in 2013. And though it has been a frustrating Nations League campaign, Southgate’s 3-4-3 formation clicked in style on Wednesday.

The trick now will be if Southgate can find a winning formula at the back to provide the platform for the likes of Grealish, Foden and England's other young guns to do the damage.

The kids are all right

England had four players aged 21 or younger – Saka, Foden, Rice and Mount – in the starting XI for a competitive international for the first time since November 1959 against Northern Ireland, and the youngsters did not let Southgate down.

Foden – the youngest player to score twice in the same match for the national team at Wembley – was the pick of the bunch, and his strikes meant England had three players aged 21 or younger score in the same match for the first time since February 1883.

Hamren's Iceland tenure ends with a whimper

Hamren has taken the decision to step down after this match and Iceland's new coach will face something of a rebuild.

Having taken over after the 2018 World Cup, Hamren has failed to lead Iceland to a third successive major tournament and, on Wednesday, his team mustered just two attempts, failing to test Jordan Pickford at all, and they had only 21.7 per cent of possession.

What's next?

Both of these sides will next be in action during the March international break, with World Cup 2022 qualifying set to start.

Phil Foden was back in Gareth Southgate's good books with his history-making Wembley double in the 4-0 win against Iceland.

But the 20-year-old England midfielder admitted afterwards that being sent home following an away game against the same opposition in September was "one of the hardest moments" of his life.

Foden, along with Manchester United teenager Mason Greenwood, was told to leave the England camp for breaking coronavirus protocol after the 1-0 win in Reykjavik.

The Manchester City youngster returned to competitive action for England on Wednesday against familiar opponents, and turned in a stellar display in an emphatic Nations League win, opening his international account with a superb late double.

Having set up Declan Rice's opener – the West Ham midfielder's maiden England goal – Foden swept home from Jadon Sancho's pass to make it 3-0 before rounding off the scoring with a crisp finish from the edge of the box.

In the process, Foden became the youngest player in the history of the England national team to score more than once in a match at Wembley, but the playmaker insisted he was simply relieved to have repaid manager Southgate's faith.

"It's up there with one of the best games and it means a lot to me," Foden told Sky Sports.

"I just couldn’t stop smiling after my goal, it’s an unbelievable feeling and I’m just going to try and enjoy it as much as I can.

"[The incident in Iceland] was one of the hardest moments of my life. That’s the time you need the trust of your manager and Gareth had a lot of respect for me and it means everything to me. I just wanted to repay him with goals and do well.

"I was just determined to come back and do the best I can. I was a little bit nervous at the start of this camp but I got used to it after a while."

Southgate was thrilled for Foden to make such an impact on his first competitive appearance for his country since September 5, with the City man having come on as a substitute in a friendly win over the Republic of Ireland last week.

"I'm really pleased for him, he's such an exciting player," Southgate told Sky Sports.

"It was a big week for him to come back in, not easy for him to walk in the door when he'd left like he did previously. For us, it's done. Today the two goals were a glimpse of what he's capable of."

England finished third in Nations League Group A2, though the win means they remain unbeaten in their final game of each year since a 1-0 reverse to Germany in 2013.

With Mason Mount also getting on the scoresheet, three players aged 21 and under scored for England in the same match for the first time since February 1883 against Ireland.

Mount dovetailed well with Rice in midfield – the pair having been close friends since their time together at Chelsea's academy.

"We've been best mates since we were eight years old, we've seen each other grow," Rice told Sky Sports.

"When we knew we were starting tonight together it was special and to both score, our families will be bursting with pride."

Phil Foden opened his England account with a double as Gareth Southgate's side ended their Nations League campaign on a high with a 4-0 victory over 10-man Iceland.

Defeat to Belgium on Sunday had ensured Wednesday's Group A2 meeting at Wembley was a dead rubber, but England's youthful team nevertheless turned in an impressive display.

Making his first England appearance since breaking coronavirus protocol after a victory over Iceland in September, Foden marked his return in style, setting up Declan Rice's opener before adding further gloss to a routine win with a superbly taken brace.

Mason Mount had doubled England's tally, with Birkir Mar Saevarsson's red card for a second bookable offence all but ending any comeback hopes for outgoing Iceland coach Erik Hamren.

For differing reasons, Jack Grealish and Foden were the big stories heading into the game and the two playmakers combined for England's 20th-minute opener.

Rice was the benefactor, heading in his maiden England goal from Foden's free-kick, which was won by Grealish, who moments later teed up Bukayo Saka.

The Arsenal youngster failed to beat Ogmundur Kristinsson, but Mount made no such mistake with England's next chance, coolly prodding in after latching onto Harry Kane's knockdown.

Harry Maguire's marauding run forward resulted in a fine pass through for Foden, whose shot was charged down by Kristinsson, who then denied the midfielder again before Kane curled wide.

Iceland's hopes seemed to have been extinguished nine minutes into the second half – Saevarsson receiving a second yellow for pulling back Saka.

Kari Arnason might have changed that, yet he headed wide from Ari Freyr Skulason's corner.

Yet England had the third goal their dominance deserved in the 80th minute when Foden swept home from Jadon Sancho's cutback.

The 20-year-old Foden was not done there, however, and capped off a fine individual display with a thumping strike into the bottom-right corner.

Gareth Southgate says England produced their best statistical performance against a big nation despite losing 2-0 to Belgium last time out.

The Nations League defeat in Leuven has prompted calls for Southgate to ditch his 3-4-3 system ahead of Wednesday's home clash with Iceland.

But the England boss insisted the formation had produced a better performance then the result suggested, comparing it favourably to the famous 3-2 away win over Spain in October 2018.

Asked if his system was too conservative, Southgate said on Tuesday: "Well, I think we were very exciting to watch against Ireland four or five days ago and we were very exciting to watch against Belgium.

"Statistically, our job is to analyse games during and after them. There is a coaching eye on how we have played and then we look at the data.

"[Against Belgium] that is as good a performance as we have had against any of the big nations.

"The interesting thing is there is a perception we didn't start the game well. But in the first half an hour we had more attempts on goal than Belgium; possession, they had a tiny bit more around 52 per cent, but we had the more dangerous attacks and more shots on goal.

"I understand once they were ahead in the latter stages of the game maybe they sat back a bit, but that's partly because we pressed well and they couldn't get out.

"So that performance [against Belgium] was in actual fact a contrast to Spain which everyone is talking about. That [Spain] match was our worst performance statistically."

Southgate added: "There were other things we did well that night [against Spain], we played with great endeavour and we counter-attacked really well, but the perception of that game is not the reality.

"As a coaching team we have to look at if you perform to those levels [like we did against Spain] every week, you lose games. If you perform to the game we did against Belgium, you'll win games.

"So it's a fascinating debate because the perception after a defeat, there's always a narrative and a story. Whichever way we play there will be strengths and weaknesses to the team.

"We need to find the best path, keep improving it, but [three at the back] can be a system that has flexibility, can be adaptable based on the profile of the players.

"That's what we've done for the last few games and then we'll get to this end of this camp and review everything before March."

Comparing the performances

England racked up 16 shots against Belgium compared to only five versus Spain, according to Opta data.

Nine of those attempts came from inside the box in Belgium, but only three of their efforts ended up on target, the same total as their miserable haul in Seville.

England therefore paid the price for poor finishing, but Southgate was right to suggest they were a much greater attacking threat.

The Three Lions also had much more of the ball against Belgium - 55 per cent compared to just 27 per cent in the Spain win.

They also attempted over double the amount of passes (589 to 283) and achieved a greater accuracy (87 per cent to 77).

As well as with the attacking and creative data, Southgate also seems to be vindicated with a look at the defensive numbers. England restricted Belgium to eight shots and only three of those were on target.

Despite beating Spain, England allowed 24 attempts on their goal with six on target.

England's best formation

While Southgate countered the suggestion a back four would be more suitable and talked up the virtues of the current approach, the data is less kind to him when it comes to formations.

Eight of England's 10 defeats since he took charge have come from only 22 games when playing three at the back.

Twenty-four matches with four in defence have resulted in 17 wins, five draws and only two losses. Two games with five at the back, meanwhile, both ended in draws.

Jack Grealish can cope with the increased expectations following a strong start to his England career, though Gareth Southgate has emphasised success will only be achieved as a team. 

Aston Villa playmaker Grealish, 25, made his full England debut in a 3-0 victory over Wales in October - setting up the opening goal for Dominic Calvert-Lewin - but was not used by Southgate for the subsequent Nations League fixtures. 

He set up Jadon Sancho in a 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland last week and was bright in a 2-0 loss to Belgium on Sunday, attempting more passes in the opposition half than any player on the pitch and drawing a game-high seven fouls. 

That result ended England's hopes of reaching the last four of the Nations League and there have consequently been calls for Southgate to begin building his team around Grealish, who has been involved in 12 goals in as many appearances for club and country this season. 

Asked whether it was important to manage the expectations on Grealish ahead of Wednesday's meeting with Iceland, Southgate told a news conference: "I think that's always important with any player, we are going to succeed or fail as a team. It's for everybody to contribute. 

"We've tried to ensure over the past four year that it's collective expectation, we could put pressure on Harry Kane, Raheem [Sterling], other players, and it needs to be the same with Jack. 

"He's had a super start to his international career. I think he'll be able to handle the attention because he thrives under that pressure. He's got great courage with the ball, so I don't think that'll faze him. Equally, it's going to be the squad that brings us success as a collective."

Another player in the embryonic stages of their international career is 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham. 

When told Bellingham wears the number 22 because he was challenged to be capable of playing as a number four, eight and 10 at former club Birmingham City, Southgate said it is important not to try to categorise the teenager as a specialist in any one position yet. 

"Well, I think he could end up playing any of those roles. At Dortmund he's playing as one of two fours or as an eight, and most of the time at Birmingham he was kind of in the position of an eight really," said Southgate. 

"But he's so young, you don't have to specialise yet. [With] a lot of midfield players, it's more important he learns the game, he gets brilliant experiences playing in whatever positions might be his strongest and as time develops it'll probably become apparent which is his more suited position. 

"But he is a midfield player who can pass, tackle, break forward and score goals, so he can do any of those jobs and I never think with young players we should rush to pigeonhole them into one, we should wait to see how he develops. And, at the moment, he's developing really well." 

There has been a focus on the performances of Marcus Rashford following his charity work to help reduce food poverty among children in the United Kingdom. This week he also launched a book club for kids. 

Amid criticism from certain parts of the media and suggestions he should focus on football, Southgate has been left baffled by the treatment of the Manchester United forward.

"I don't really understand those comments. The days where the players just focused on their football and did nothing else are in the far distant past," he said.

"Modern players recognise they have an opportunity to make a difference, whether that's in their local community or on a broader scale, they have a voice and a social media presence.

"You know as a sportsman you're going to have a second career when you finish football, that's the reality, so I don't know why they would limit themselves to just one thing.

"Of course, it's important you're training and focus on games isn't affected, but it's possible to achieve that balance."

Harry Winks is growing concerned about his playing time at Tottenham as he bids to be in England's starting XI for next year's European Championship.

The 24-year-old midfielder made 31 appearances in the Premier League last season, the most he has managed for a single campaign in his career.

However, he has played in just half of Spurs' eight league matches this term, with Tanguy Ndombele and new signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg playing in every single one.

Winks made his England debut in October 2017 and has been a regular pick for Gareth Southgate since, featuring in each of their first two games in the current international break.

But his goal is to be a regular starter by the time the delayed Euro 2020 kicks off next June, and he accepts to achieve such an ambition he needs to dig deep at Spurs.

When asked if he needs Spurs boss Jose Mourinho to afford him more minutes, he told reporters: "Definitely. My situation at Tottenham is difficult at the moment.

"It's important that I keep fighting and working as hard as I can to stay in the squad and to stay in the team.

"Every time I get the opportunity for England, I love it, it's a great place to play football here. It's free and the lads get on really well, it's a great place to come to.

"I want to be a part of that in the Euros and I want to be in the starting XI in the Euros as well.

"But, yes, it's important that back at Tottenham I get the opportunities there and I stay in the team there as well."

England's hopes of reaching the Nations League Finals were ended by a 2-0 defeat by Belgium on Sunday, meaning there is nothing at stake for either team in Wednesday's clash with Iceland at Wembley.

Southgate may opt to use the situation to experiment with his team, though he feels that he has had little option to do otherwise across these past three international windows due to the amount of players he has lost to injuries.

In a packed schedule made even busier by the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the 2019-20 season, Southgate fears that by the time of England's next get-together in March, their injury list could be even more alarming – though this could play into the hands of players like Winks.

"What we don't know about March is what we will have available," Southgate added. "It is really an unknown and I have to say a concern.

"In terms of the squad or the starting XI, we have been nowhere near in any of the three [get-togethers this season] to having a full squad to pick from. Nowhere near.

"And, as the season progresses – we will go through with no winter break – we don't know who we will have at the end. So that would be the concern."

Injured duo Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling have returned to their respective clubs to undergo further assessment after withdrawing from the England squad.

Liverpool captain Henderson was replaced in the second half of England's 2-0 loss to Belgium on Sunday with what boss Gareth Southgate described as "a bit of tightness".

Manchester City attacker Sterling played no part against Belgium because of a "small niggle" picked up in training.

Both players have been ruled out of Wednesday's Nations League clash with Iceland and Southgate has decided against calling up any replacements.

"Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling will miss England's forthcoming UEFA Nations League fixture against Iceland," an England statement read on Monday.

"The pair have returned to their respective clubs for further assessment. Gareth Southgate will continue his preparations for Wednesday with a 22-man squad."

Ben Chilwell also left the field early against Belgium with a back problem but remains part of Southgate's squad for the Iceland match at Wembley.

England can no longer finish top of Group A2 with one game to play and are safe from relegation, leaving them in a direct battle for second with Denmark, who are three points better off and could still qualify for the Finals with a win over Belgium.

 

Dominik Szoboszlai's superb strike completed a remarkable late turnaround as Hungary secured their spot at Euro 2020 with a stunning 2-1 win over Iceland.

Having defended brilliantly amid a Hungary onslaught, Iceland looked to be heading to their second European Championship thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson's 11th-minute opener, which came courtesy of Peter Gulacsi's howler.

Yet after substitute Albert Gudmundsson missed a glorious chance to wrap up the win in the 87th minute, Hungary struck twice to book their place at next year's finals.

Loic Nego had prodded in from close range, before star man Szoboszlai stole victory, thumping in off the upright to thwart Iceland in the most dramatic fashion.

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