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Gareth Southgate prepared for England outbursts in Croatia clash | Football | Sport
Published On: Fri, Oct 12th, 2018

Gareth Southgate prepared for England outbursts in Croatia clash | Football | Sport

England face Croatia in their second Nations League game on Friday – with the game being played behind closed doors at the Stadion HNK Rijeka because of a Uefa stadium ban on the home nation.

It means there will only be around 500 people, mainly guests and officials inside the 8,279 capacity stadium, with fans of both sides locked out.

But there will be television and radio microphones all around the ground, and even on top of the dugouts, which with no background noise from the crowd could pick up every word – including the swearing from players and benches.

But Southgate said: “We’ve spent two years encouraging the players to speak, so to stop them from speaking now would be slightly against what we’ve been trying to work on.

“It’s for the television companies to decide where they put their microphones.

“It’s something we can’t prepare for, other than we train in the same environment every day of the week. That’s all the preparation we need.”

BBC Radio 5Live will have a sound engineer ready to turn down the sound on their mikes inside the stadium if necessary.

Southgate, in a team meeting this week, cautioned his players to mind their language – but knows that in the heat of battle tonight those warnings could be quickly forgotten.

England defender John Stones said: “It’s part and parcel of football.

“Emotions run high. Maybe the television people will watch where they put the microphones.

“People wince at me every day screaming in training I could probably still scream more. We are used to it training every day at St George’s Park.

“This is a bigger scale but we spoke about it during the week, how to handle it.

“We’re coming into this game with none of our fans and none of theirs, which will play a bigger part on their behalf.

“It will be a strange situation. I’ve not played in an empty stadium before since going back to FA Youth Cup days. We won’t focus on it too much.

“We trained all week on what to do on the pitch and not to focus on what’s off the pitch.”

Croatia are tonight serving the second of a two-game stadium ban, after a swastika was painted onto the pitch in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in June 2015.

Southgate is likely to field a strong team but he has been hit by injuries; Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck, Tottenham defender Danny Rose and Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy were all left behind with injuries yesterday when the England party flew out to Croatia.

Spurs midfielder Harry Winks is set to feature.

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Gareth Southgate prepared for England outbursts in Croatia clash | Football | Sport