Gareth Southgate will put the finishing touches on his new contract as he intensifies preparations for the World Cup, with the prospect of working with England’s new talent impossible to push away.
Telegraph Sport revealed last week that Southgate, 51, is close to signing an extension until 2024 with a deal for about £ 5 million a year plus bonuses. With a vacancy in Qatar confirmed, he will now hold talks with the Football Association’s executive director Mark Bullingham, and technical director John McDermott, to finalize the terms.
After reaching the European Championship final in the summer, Southgate believes there are more possible improvements for a young team with potential to improve. The team that defeated San Marino to seal the standings had no players over 30 years old.
“When you work with staff like I work with and with a group of players who are so receptive and have the talent that we have then that’s clearly very nice,” Southgate said.
“So there was no other reason not to sit than the fact that we thought it was right to focus on the European Championship and get this classification.
“Now is an appropriate time to be able to sit down with John (McDermott) and Mark Bullingham and go through it all, but I don’t expect that to be at all complicated.”
Southgate has confirmed it will not travel to Qatar next month, when an FA delegation will travel to the Arab Cup to assess the facilities and look for possible training bases. He will attend the draw, scheduled for April 1, when England will meet their opponents in the group stage for the tournament which will start in November and end shortly before Christmas.
The mid-season schedule to play in the winter, to avoid the heat of Qatar’s summer, will make it nearly impossible to have a warm-up match before the tournament and will make the March friendlies important for Southgate.
“As for Qatar, we went to the Club World Cup two years ago, so it was perfect for us,” he said.
“We took a look at the hotels that were possibilities back then and we were there at a time when the weather was exactly what we were going to face. So I’m not going to go on the next trip that some of the other officials will make next month.
“They’re going to look at one or two newer places that went into the catalog that you have to follow, but we have a basic outline of where we wanted to be.
“I think it’s very unlikely that teams can play a friendly (in November). If you think about Premier League teams playing on a Saturday or Sunday, you would need three or four days before playing and I think you usually have to be in the country. Five days before a big tournament anyway, it may depend on the group in which we are selected and whether you are at the beginning of the tournament or a little later, but it will be the same for everyone.
“It is clear that we will take on a high-level opposition in March, so we are looking to get a good quality opposition by March and the League of Nations will provide it.”
Southgate and his medical staff will maintain constant contact with the clubs next season and may increase their visits before the tournament. He is awaiting injury, given the timing of the tournament.
The England coach has also been asked in the last week if his team’s core is resolved, but he has left the door open for young players to make an impact on the team.
Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher have been promoted from the Under-21s during this international hiatus, while Mason Greenwood is a player Southgate has agreed not to select until 2022.
“It’s going to be interesting to see some of the younger players emerging and how quickly their progress is too much towards what’s going to happen in the next 12 months,” Southgate said.
“So now we have a good period to prepare and reflect not only in the last few months, but all year and the opportunity to breathe and think about everything because we almost didn’t have time to reflect. Summer, it doesn’t matter this fall’s games.”
Southgate introduced new games to Aaron Ramsdale and Gallagher in the locker room after the 10-0 win over San Marino. Gallagher revealed the impact of Patrick Vieira on his progress this season at Crystal Palace during his Chelsea loan spell.
“Working with Patrick is amazing. He was one of the best Premier League midfielders to learn from him and working with him is brilliant,” he said.
“It helps me a lot, tactically, and most importantly, what’s really good is how you know my strengths and tell me what I need to do about it. So let me attack the frame and do what I do best, which is part of the reason I had a good start to the season. ”