England boss Gareth Southgate says he will have no hesitation about throwing his young stars into the potentially intimidating environment of Monday night’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro.
Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole were verbally abused and targeted with missiles when England travelled to Podgorica for a World Cup qualifier in 2013 and a similarly tough atmosphere is expected.
But Southgate, whose side got their qualifying campaign off to a flying start with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday night, said at a press conference: “This is part of their education and to be a top team we’ve got to adapt to every environment we go into.
“Friday at Wembley is always a different experience to going away from home in a qualifier, which is always difficult. But the only way the team can learn and improve is by going through these experiences.”
Southgate was able to oversee a full squad training session on Sunday as England reported no new injuries ahead of their second Group A encounter.
After having to deal with various withdrawals since the squad was announced, Southgate saw all 20 of the remaining players train at St George’s Park before flying to Podgorica on Sunday afternoon.
Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier had become the latest casualty when he suffered a muscular problem in Friday’s comprehensive win over the Czechs.
That was an impressive start to qualifying for last year’s World Cup semi-finalists and Montenegro head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic admits he is struggling to find a weakness in Southgate’s team.
Leicester defender Harry Maguire was singled out by Czech forward Matej Vydra as a “weak link” in the England ranks ahead of Friday’s game – but Tumbakovic disagreed.
Asked if he sees any weaknesses in the England squad, he replied: “I’m really trying but I can’t.
“We in the coaching team who deal with the players are realistic.
Montenegro have played England four times in the past and have lost once, drawing the other three – including both previous meetings at the Gradski Stadion.
However, Tumbakovic said his side cannot look at previous results as for inspiration this time out.
“Things that happen in the past are just nice results for Montenegro, tomorrow we will play a match with totally different players, new coaches, with different capabilities and different ideas from both teams,” he said.