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England ‘ready to win’ Euro 2024, kit row latest, Wales into final: football news – live

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Matty Cash will miss Poland’s Euro 2024 play-off final against Wales due to injury. The Aston Villa player suffered a suspected hamstring injury 11 minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute in yesterday’s 5-1 play-off semi-final win over Estonia.

Some more emails on kitgate and other games this weekend!

Jonathan writes:

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that he “prefers the original England shirt”.

What on earth does that even mean?? I do wish journalists would challenge such opportunistic shit-stirring nonsense. Starmer isn’t much better on this.

I bet if asked, Sunak would say his favourite Beatles album is The Best of The Beatles.

And Thomas is hopeful:

Good to see Derby get a mention – in the company of Man City even! On a trip home last weekend (from the US) I watched them play promotion rivals Bolton. Bolton were by far the better team but Derby got the 1-0 win with massive support from a sold out 32,000+ crowd. Derby play Northampton tomorrow with a chance to extend their lead over Bolton to seven points and close to within two of Portsmouth. Given that Bolton still have to play Portsmouth and none of Derby’s remaining fixtures are against any of the top 8, things are looking hopeful for a return to the Championship.

Onwards and upwards for Derby. Photograph: Paul Bonser/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock

And Ben puts it succinctly:

Hi Yara. The thing I find most tiresome about all this shirt chat (and that is a heavily contested category) is that all the usual rent-a-gobs who will be piping up about this will not also be banging the drum about Fifa’s hands off approach to those poor souls who will be building their stadiums.

They will remain weirdly silent about the news just published in this blog about the FA essentially ignoring evidence about concussions and brain injury.

They will somehow keep their cool about the horrible use of racism or tragedy chanting (a deplorable practice but now so common it has shorthand name) or the abandonment of promising young players by big teams.

There are a million issues in football that are far more pressing and worthwhile of political intervention, yet as with everything with our current political status quo, the best we can hope for is some culture wars ping-pong on the deck of the Titanic.

Grim reading that but very well said.

Harvey Elliott pressed his claims for a late run into England’s Euro 2024 squad with two goals in the under-21s’ 5-1 victory over Azerbaijan.

The 20-year-old Liverpool midfielder took his tally to seven goals in six matches and is now the leading scorer across the whole of this Under-21 Euros qualifying campaign.

Elliott will hope to catch Gareth Southgate’s eye again at home to Luxembourg in Bolton on Tuesday as he looks to follow the Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo in breaking into the senior setup.

Chelsea’s Noni Madueke scored his fourth of the campaign as the visitors pressed home their dominance with two goals inside five first-half minutes, with Aston Villa’s Jaden Philogene and Elliott scoring after the break before the debutant Archie Gray scored the fifth in the 88th minute.

It means the reigning European champions are the tournament’s leading goalscorers with 25 and they drew level on points with Group F leaders Ukraine, who head to Baku on Tuesday. PA Media

FA defends multicoloured cross on England shirt

The Football Association have responded to the backlash surrounding the new England kit and has defended the multicoloured St George’s Cross, saying it was part of a tribute to the team that won the World Cup in 1966.

An FA spokesperson said:

The new England 2024 Home kit has a number of design elements which were meant as a tribute to the 1966 World Cup winning team. The coloured trim on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, and the same colours also feature on the design on the back of the collar. It is not the first time that different coloured St George’s cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts.

We are very proud of the red and white St George’s cross – the England flag. We understand what it means to our fans, and how it unites and inspires, and it will be displayed prominently at Wembley tomorrow – as it always is – when England play Brazil.”

Read the full story here.

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More thoughts on the England shirt drama. Adam writes:

Hi Yara. Ireland fan here. Kit designers have typically avoided modifying national symbols (crosses, dragons, harps, etc.) and played loose and fast with the exact colours (see Ireland World Cup kit).

The expanded colour scheme on the cross is (IMHO) kind of nice and reminiscent of highlights from NHS branding. Fifty bonus politics points to the first party to U-turn and embrace the colour scheme as patriotic.

I actually thought it was an NHS tribute when I first saw the kit. And I do find the politics around it a bit tiresome. Especially given that this is not the first time the kits have donned non-traditional St George’s Cross.

Gianpiero is a happy Welsh fan:

Great win last night … Makes you forget about the rugby debacle …. On to Poland … Who knows??!!! CYMRU AM BYTH!!!

And Lisa hopes for more from Gareth Southgate tomorrow:

Hello Yara. I did not know that the Brazil team was so depleted going into tomorrow. I pray that means we get to see a more adventurous lineup from Gareth. Would love to see some of the young lads go toe-to-toe with BRAZIL!

Maguire says England ‘ready to win Euros’

Harry Maguire says England have players who can produce in big moments and the squad is ready to win the Euros in Germany this summer.

I feel that as a group, we’re ready to win. If you are to win the Euros, you are probably going to have to win a penalty shootout. Tournament football is built on big moments.

The quarter-final against France at the 2022 World Cup could have gone either way but it went to them.

We have the players to produce the big moments. We have to be mentally prepared so that in this tournament, we make these moments ours.

Maguire also spoke about the criticism for his performances last year and claimed that playing for England as a Manchester United player brings added scrutiny.

I think that different clubs have different scrutiny on players. I think every player who’s played for United and the country has come to a time when they’ve played for the country and people haven’t been happy.

It’s part and parcel of football and playing for such a historic club. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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The Football Association “was always fully aware” of the risk of concussion and brain injury to players as early as the 1980s but failed to take steps to improve safety, the high court has been told.

Lawyers representing several former footballers and their families have said in court documents that minutes from an FA committee meeting in 1983 “indicate” that it knew of the risk posed by head injuries “but failed to take action to reduce the risk of players to the lowest reasonable level”.

Ten former professional footballers – and the families of a further seven who have died – are suing the FA, the Football Association of Wales (FAW), the English Football League (EFL) and the sport’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board (Ifab).

Read the full story below.

Nobby Stiles was found to have had a progressive brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head. His family is among those taking legal action. Photograph: Phil Noble/PA

Any thoughts, musings, questions, complaints or epiphanies on how your team will fare this weekend? Whether it is England, Wales, Manchester City, Derby, Crewe or Dundee United, send me an email.

How have Brazil fared in this post-Tite era? Not great. They’re winless in their last four games, all World Cup qualifiers, having drawn with Venezuela before registering back-to-back-to-back losses against Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina.

These upcoming friendlies will be massive to boost some morale ahead of the Copa América this summer.

Dorival Júnior is certainly excited about the match at Wembley and is keen to get the good vibes back to Brazil again.

Read our interview here where he talks World Cup, England and his best Brazil team of all time.

Dorival Júnior leads a team talk during a training session ahead of the match against England. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Thanks Luke and hello all! Happy Friday! We know quite a bit about how England will be shaping up in tomorrow’s friendly, but what about Brazil?

Dorival Júnior has a depleted squad to choose from as he prepares to name the very first lineup of his tenure.

The Seleção are without (deep breath) Neymar, Marquinhos, Éder Militão and Casemiro, Alisson, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhães. (And exhale).

Raphinha, Rodrygo, Vinícius Júnior and Richarlison are expected to start but for fans at Wembley, there will certainly be some new faces on display. With both mainstay keepers out, one of three uncapped goalkeepers will be making their first team debut: Leo Jardim, Bento or Rafael.

Sávio, the 19-year-old wonderkid, who is heavily linked with Manchester City may also make an appearance.

That’s the lot from me. Yara El-Shaboury is here to guide you through the next bit.

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

It was a burst that proved the catalyst for Wales’s resounding 4-1 win over Finland, another absorbing night under the lights in Cardiff. With a couple of minutes gone, Harry Wilson received the ball on the left flank, about 30 yards from goal, and punched a pass into Brennan Johnson with the outside of his left foot. Seeking a one-two, Wilson charged past five blue shirts, picked up the baton on the perimeter of the box then beat another in Matti Peltola before getting a shot away. It was an arced run that quickened the pulse and subsequently soothed the inevitable anxieties in the stands.

Say what you like about the new England football kit, it’s definitely not as bad as Nike’s effort for the Rugby World Cup back in 2007, is it?

England take on Australia in 2007 wearing an absolutely terribly Nike kit. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Saturday’s Manchester derby in the WSL could see City hit the top of the table. Will Unwin reports:

Given the supposed furore about the England kit, Gareth Southgate’s answer to the inevitable question from the media later today will be interesting.

Commercial imperatives (the fact they’ve already manufactured the kit, that is) will ensure Nike won’t be backing down any time soon. It follows that a suitably approving line has to be found regarding the design.

Jeff Stelling, the former Soccer Saturday supremo, has been having a chat with PA Media about the importance of non-league football clubs, while wondering how the new regulator will apply some of its proposed regulations:

“People forget that they are still the lifeblood and soul of English football – to fans of National League sides or National League North or South sides, their clubs matter just as much to them as Manchester City or Liverpool matter to their fans,” Stelling said.

“They are just as passionate and yet they have to survive on the crumbs from the table. It is a hell of a feast on that Premier League table and yet the lower league sides, and particularly the non-league sides, they get left anything that is pretty much dropped on the floor.

“It will be interesting to see what effect the (new independent football) regulator has. I think none of us are too sure quite how it is going to work and there are certainly grey areas there.

“I read clubs are going to be need to be licenced annually and if they can’t prove they are financially OK then they won’t get that licence. Well, what happens to that football club then? New owners are not like apples from trees – it is really tough to find someone to back your football club. But on the positive side, if there is control over what [money] the Premier League give to the EFL and thereby the entire pyramid, then that has got to be a good thing.”

Stelling! Photograph: NurPhoto/Getty Images
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I agree with Alex, it’s an absurd non-controversy. Personally I think the design is pretty good, and if it’s the kind of thing that genuinely angers or annoys you, it’s probably time to reassess your priorities.

Not to continue this absurd non-controversy, but to pick up on Gareth Wilson’s point …” emails Alex. “As far as I can tell, England is the only strip of Nike’s 2024 international designs that features the nation’s flag at all (with the exception perhaps of Turkey/Norway, where it serves as the crest). Of the other strips where there’s an approximation of the flag in collar detailing (USA, France), it’s also interpreted/colour-shifted to better match the colour scheme of the shirt.

“Why the need for the flag as well beats me, but we also can’t escape that, in a climate of rising far right nationalism across Europe, the St George’s flag takes on a somewhat different association for many people …”

Polish media aren’t holding back regarding next week’s match in Wales. This is from an opinion piece on SportoweFakty, that I put through Google translate:

We are going there not for a match, but for a war. For hand-to-hand combat, a defender who plays poorly in contact (Jan Bednarek) will absolutely not work.”

Speaking of Kobbie Mainoo, why not have a crack at our sports quiz of the week.

Bonne chance.

Kobbie Mainoo of Manchester United had a chat with England’s official website yesterday and explained how it felt to get his first call-up to Gareth Southgate’s senior squad.

“I was shocked and happy,” Mainoo said. “I rang my family straight away and they were all buzzing.

“I called my dad first and he was so excited for me. My mum and my dad were both over the moon about it and so were the rest of my family.”

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

Nigel Adkins is talking about being back where it all started at Tranmere Rovers, recounting the days when, as an apprentice goalkeeper at Prenton Park, he would clean boots, sweep dressing-room floors and even climb on to the roof of the Cowshed Stand to retrieve stray balls. A few years earlier, he was looking on from the terrace when Charlie Lindsay, an avid supporter, infamously whacked the Bournemouth goalkeeper Kenny Allen with his walking stick for time-wasting.

Daniel James was delighted to celebrate the birth of his new baby by scoring on his 50th Wales appearance in the Euro playoff win against Finland. The 4-1 victory set up a home playoff final against Poland on Tuesday.

James’ second-half appearance came after a busy few days for the Leeds winger following the birth of his second child with partner Ria. The 26-year-old arrived late into camp on Monday before adding to the best scoring season of his career with a 13th goal for club and country.

“It was my newborn’s first game here and I’m delighted to have my 50th cap,” James said. “It’s an honour for me and my family so hopefully there’s many more. To score four here shows we’ve got goals all over the pitch.

“Everyone’s come into camp whether playing or not fit and ready. We really gelled as a team and we’ve got to take that into Tuesday.”

Daniel James of Wales celebrates. Photograph: Kian Abdullah/Huw Evans/Shutterstock

Poland will represent a tougher test than Finland. They had an indifferent qualifying campaign, losing three of eight group games, but there is plenty of top-level European experience in Michal Probierz’s squad.

Robert Lewandowski remains their star at the age of 35 and has scored 82 international goals, although the Barcelona striker was not on the scoresheet in Thursday’s 5-1 rout of Estonia in Warsaw. Poland have beaten Wales in their last six meetings, including a 2022 Nations League double-header when they won 2-1 in Wroclaw and 1-0 in Cardiff.

“We’ve played them before and they’re a very good team,” James told S4C. “It’s going to be a tough game. We’ve got a couple days now to settle from this one and then we’ll be straight on it. To win 4-1 here is great, but the manager (Rob Page) said after the game that it’s only half-time. We’ve got a massive game on Tuesday now and we’re looking forward to it.” (PA Media)

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Justin McCurry

Justin McCurry

North Korea has abruptly cancelled its 2026 World Cup qualifying match with Japan next week, leaving organisers frantically searching for an alternative venue.

North Korea reportedly decided it would no longer host the match, which had been scheduled for next Tuesday at the Kim Il-sung stadium in Pyongyang, a day before the teams met in Tokyo on Thursday in the first of their two Asian qualifying Group B qualifiers.

Please can Wales fans get in touch and tell me your thoughts before Tuesday’s seismic Euro 2024 encounter against Poland?

Gareth Wilson wades in to the shirt row:

“1) I’m pretty sure both Starmer and Sunak only “waded in” to this row when asked specifically about it.

“2) Nike hasn’t seen fit to make a “playful interpretation” of the flag of any of the other nations whose kit it designs.”

Clearly the media are trying to whip this up. But look, the England press conference isn’t until 7.30pm, we have to talk about something.

The reporter on Sky Sports News just said Southgate has always “flat batted” questions about the possibility of renewing his England contract, preferring to focus on the Euro 2024 task at hand. Surely he means “straight batted”? Flat batted means trying to smash it for six in agricultural style.

Sunak ‘prefers original’ England shirt

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that he “prefers the original” England shirt, as he responded to the row over Nike’s decision to change the colour of the St George’s Cross on its new jersey.

Speaking to reporters in Derbyshire, Sunak said: “Obviously I prefer the original, and my general view is that when it comes to our national flags, we shouldn’t mess with them. Because they are a source of pride, identity, who we are, and they’re perfect as they are.” (PA Media)

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A line from the Press Association there – Kane’s ankle we already knew about, so Henderson being a doubt is the breaking news bit …

Henderson and Kane doubts for Brazil friendly

Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson are doubts for England’s friendly against Brazil after missing group training on the eve of the game. Gareth Southgate’s men step up their preparations for Euro 2024 with Wembley friendlies against the Seleção and Belgium.

Kane and Henderson’s availability to face Brazil on Saturday is in doubt after the pair trained away from the main group at St George’s Park on Friday morning. England skipper Kane has been dealing with an ankle injury suffered in Bayern Munich’s 5-2 Bundesliga win over Darmstadt last Sunday.

Southgate had a 23-man squad for training before travelling to London following Bukayo Saka’s withdrawal from the squad on Thursday. The Arsenal forward reported to St George’s Park with an injury and returned to his club having been unable to participate in training. (PA Media)

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Paul MacInnes

Paul MacInnes

They share the same name, the same complicated history, and are separated by just 50km of Caribbean sea. They sit next to each other in the Fifa rankings and are about to play each other for a shot at international glory. This weekend, the road to World Cup 2026 begins in earnest with the resumption of a nascent rivalry: the British Virgin Islands against the US Virgin Islands, it’s on, baby!

The former Brazil and Manchester City striker Robinho has been arrested by federal police at his home in the city of Santos after a Brazilian court ruled he should serve a nine-year prison sentence for a rape he was convicted of committing in Italy.

The 40-year-old footballer, whose full name is Robson de Souza, was taken into custody on Thursday night after his lawyers failed in their attempt to delay his detention over the 2013 crime, which took place when he was a player for AC Milan.

It’s good that in his moan about the biggest issue in Britain today, Keir found the time in-between his faux-jingoism to make an aside about the cost of the shirts,” emails Liam Searle. “I’m sure he probably has more important things to be worrying about altogether, but he could at least lead by calling out the extortionate prices of football shirts these days, given that’s an actual issue that many of the voters he’s trying to appeal to face.

“I’m not sure what’s worse – making a mountain out of a non-issue (as Barry said in Football Daily yesterday, it’s not the first Nike kit to play around with St. George’s crosses) or the fact that there is no way he actually cares about the back of the England collar, but is just trying to appeal to the worst sections of politics.”

I’m told England’s pre-Brazil press conference – featuring John Stones and Gareth Southgate – will take place at 7.30pm UK time.

Chances are that I will be tucked up in bed by then, let alone writing this blog.

How about some MLS content, then? Here’s Graham Ruthven on the referee strike, plus power rankings feat. Phil Neville:

Simon Burnton

Simon Burnton

Stanley Cricket Club was founded in 1881, changing its name the following year to Newcastle East End, and in 1892 to Newcastle United. Hashtag United were founded in 2016. On Saturday two clubs whose creation was separated by 135 years meet as equals, or near enough, as their women’s sides play the National League Cup final at Luton’s Kenilworth Road.

On the subject of the England shirt, like so many things these days I’m not sure if there’s a right answer/the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle,” emails Adam K.

“I can really see both sides here. On the one hand, flags are just bits of coloured fabric to which we’ve ascribed meaning, so using them as a starting point for artistic inspiration seems like it would be okay to me. This would seem to be especially so as football matches are not exactly exercises in diplomacy where adherence to the correct colour scheme would be important. On the other hand, though, flags, national colours, and indeed the kits of those countries are easily recognisable symbols of a country and hold a lot of meaning for people. I believe that we should not simply discard the feelings of people who have such an emotional connection to their country, and if the colouring of a national symbol is changed, it could feel like parts of their national identity are being stripped away.

“Choosing a particularly extreme thought exercise, if Ukraine played in anything other than yellow and blue, that would feel really weird – so should we accept this change in design just because England is not at war? In summary, it seems I have the non-clickbait-y opinion that there are probably bigger issues in the world than an artistically interpreted flag on the neck of a football kit, but also that I can empathise with why it upsets people and Nike probably should have just left good enough alone.”

Honestly, I couldn’t be less interested in what colour(s) Nike make the cross on the back of England’s kits,” emails Jonathan Eccles. “Of all the things for people to get annoyed about, this ain’t one!

“I understand that people believe certain design features are traditional. I guess Keir Starmer thinks this is an easy way to score points with those people?

“It’s a meaningless debate. Get a grip!”

These England friendlies against Brazil and Belgium are Gareth Southgate’s final chance to fine-tune before Euro 2024 this summer.

Jacob Steinberg assesses the key issues facing the manager in the build-up to the Group C opener against Serbia on 16 June:

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Injury news regarding England, in case you missed it last night, is that Bukayo Saka has withdrawn from the squad due to “minor muscle issue” – while Harry Kane is doubtful to feature against Brazil tomorrow due to an ankle injury.

The good news for Arsenal fans is that Saka’s withdrawal is precautionary … meanwhile one of Ivan Toney and Ollie Watkins is due to step in for Kane against Brazil. Bayern Munich goal-getter Kane hopes to play against Belgium next week.

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News on the grapevine is that John Stones will be having a chat with media today from within the England camp, along with the gaffer Gareth Southgate.

Feel free to send me an email about the England shirt controversy, or anything else.

What’s your view on the debate on the new England shirt?

PM-in-waiting Keir Starmer and *checks notes* Nigel Farage appear to be on the same page, and believe Nike’s multicoloured St George’s Cross should be changed back to the traditional red and white:

Arsenal have welcomed the three-year banning orders handed out to three of their fans who pleaded guilty to tragedy-related abuse during an FA Cup match against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on 7 January.

“We strongly condemn this abhorrent behaviour,” Arsenal said in a statement. “We have worked closely with the police to ensure swift action was taken and we welcome the football banning orders handed out. We have a zero-tolerance approach to tragedy chanting and will always ensure strong action is taken against those found guilty of such behaviour.”

We’ll go toe to toe and have a go.”

The Wales manager, Rob Page, is hyping up Tuesday’s Euro 2024 playoff meeting with Poland in a manner that would delight Don King.

Preamble

With a truly fascinating Premier League title race continuing to gather momentum, it seems only natural for England’s players to take a break from the domestic programme for a couple of friendlies.

Brazil and Belgium at Wembley will both be box-office, though, so there is plenty to get excited about before those fixtures (taking place tomorrow and Tuesday respectively). Scotland, safely qualified for the Euros like England, will be occupied with friendlies against the Netherlands tonight, and Northern Ireland next week.

Wales have a Euro 2024 playoff final against Poland next Tuesday to prepare for after easing past Finland 4-1 last night, while Ireland have games against the aforementioned Belgians (tomorrow) and Switzerland on Tuesday. Northern Ireland, to complete the set, are away against Romania this evening before the match at Hampden Park next week.

If you missed it, read on Ben Fisher’s report from Wales’s emphatic win over Finland last night:



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