England coach Gareth Southgate said some fans do not understand the message behind players taking a knee before matches after the gesture was booed ahead of Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly win over Austria. Around 7,000 fans were at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium for the Euro 2020 warm-up and jeers could be heard from sections of the crowd before they were drowned out by applause from other supporters.
Players have been taking a knee before kickoff in support of the anti-racism ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement but Southgate said some fans view it as a ‘political stand’ they do not agree with. “I was pleased it was drowned out by the majority of the crowd but we can`t deny it happened,” Southgate said.
“It’s not something on behalf of our Black players that I wanted to hear because it feels as though it is a criticism of them. I think the majority of people understand it. Some people aren`t quite understanding the message and I suppose we are seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment.”
Midfielder Jack Grealish said none of the players were happy about it. “I think that will get talked about in the next few days,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s a thing we don’t want in football in general and especially in our games.”
Alarm for England as Alexander-Arnold hobbles off
Trent Alexander-Arnold made plenty of headlines before Gareth Southgate announced his final squad for Euro 2020 and his inclusion could be short-lived after he hobbled off in Wednesday’s friendly win against Austria. Dropped for World Cup qualifiers in March, the 22-year-old Liverpool player had won a recall amid much speculation as one of four right backs in Southgate’s provisional 33-man squad and then the final 26.
His first match back ended in obvious pain after some 88 minutes at Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium when he signalled he had pulled a muscle while kicking the ball with nobody near him. With England having used up all their substitutes he lingered on the sidelines and was then booked for returning to the pitch without permission.
Medical staff helped him back to the bench as he covered his face with his shirt. ITV television speculated he had mouthed ‘it’s gone’. “It’s not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did,” said Southgate. “We’ll know more in the next 24-48 hours.”
Former Ireland international Roy Keane, in the ITV studio as a pundit, agreed the signs looked ominous. “He was walking past us there and he looked really uncomfortable,” said the ex-Manchester United captain. “He was swearing quite a bit so it doesn`t look good. Absolutely not. The guy looks in big trouble.”
Former England striker Ian Wright also sounded pessimistic. “You could see, even when he was covering his face with his shirt, he himself probably feels it`s not going to happen for him,” he said.
“You know instantly when you are injured and how long it’s going to be. It looked like thigh or hamstring… if it’s that, and we’re talking about 11 days, there’s no way he’s going to be able to make that.”