By Ian Ladyman for the Daily Mail
Published: 22:31 BST, 3 September 2020 | Updated: 14:18 BST, 4 September 2020
Gareth Southgate believes the last 10 days or so have been among the most difficult he has had to endure during his four years as England coach. The chances are it will not get much easier from here.
The complications of the Harry Maguire court case have only compounded the issues thrown up by Covid-19. Southgate has suffered three withdrawals from his squad in the build-up to this double-header against Iceland and Denmark and this at a time when the Premier League season has not even started yet.
Challenges will come regularly for the England manager as he tries to plot a way from here to the doorstep of the delayed European Championship next June. If he is to have any chance at all of preparing a team to win the tournament he will in all likelihood need almost unprecedented co-operation from our top-flight clubs.
Gareth Southgate says the last 10 days have been among his most testing in charge of England
The complications of the Harry Maguire court case have only compounded Southgate's issues
Certainly there was an edge to what he said recently on the matter. 'We are competing with the Portuguese, the French, the Spanish, the Italians, the Belgians, who always pick their strongest teams,' said Southgate. 'My job is to win games for my country and