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Southgate wary of ‘hostile environment’ facing England players in Montenegro

21:38 GMT 24/03/2019
Gareth Southgate England
The Three Lions boss has claimed facing daunting away trips is part and parcel of international football

Gareth Southgate has admitted England could face a ‘hostile environment’ when they take on Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday night.

The game will be England’s second of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign following a 5-0 home win against the Czech Republic on Friday.

With the Three Lions facing a lower-ranked side, many are expecting an easier game than the one they faced at Wembley, but Southgate has warned his side that playing away from home could be a tougher task.

“That is the sort of challenge our players have faced many times before," the England manager told BBC Sport.

"I know the passion the supporters have for their country and of course that gives a huge lift to their own team. We have to make sure our discipline is right and we focus on what we can affect.

"We are guests here, so we will be very respectful about how we speak about the opposition. Our players have to be prepared for hostile environments, whether it is in England for their clubs or travelling around the world,” he added.

Southgate handed youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Declan Rice their debuts on Friday while also starting teenager Jadon Sancho.

Quizzed as to whether he would risk such youthful players in the testing atmosphere in Montenegro, Southgate was adamant he had no qualms in playing his less experienced charges.

“I have no hesitation in playing them,” he said. “This is part of their education and to be a top team we have got to adapt to every environment we go in to.

"Playing at Wembley is always going to be a different sort of experience to going away from home but the only way they can learn and improve is to go through these experiences.”

With Eric Dier likely to miss the game through injury, Southgate is expected to select Chelsea’s Ross Barkley from the off.

This will be the Three Lions final test ahead of June’s Nations League Finals which sees England pitted against a resurgent Netherlands side and then either Portugal or Switzerland in the final or the third-place play-off.