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Southgate: Why I snubbed Conor Coady for England

Gareth Southgate admits the formation Wolves play counts against Conor Coady forcing his way into the England team.

Coady has had an outstanding first full season in the Premier League, but the England head coach resisted the clamour to select the Molineux captain in his 25-man squad for the forthcoming UEFA European Championship qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Instead he opted for Burnley’s James Tarkowski and Michael Keane of Everton alongside first-choice centre backs Harry Maguire and John Stones.

Southgate admitted he is unlikely to pick 26-year-old Coady as he plays as a sweeper in a 3-5-2 formation, rather than his preferred back four.

He’s playing as a sweeper in a back three, so it’s very different to how anybody else in the Premier League is playing,” Southgate told The Times.

He’s having an outstanding season and you can’t fail to be impressed.

He’s very comfortable on the ball, but it’s quite difficult to put that into a back four.

We’d been trying him in what even might be the only time he’s ever played centrally in a back four if we have him in.

Yes, we could bring him in to train and have a look at that, but we wouldn’t really know enough.

I can’t say anything other than positive things from what I’ve seen, but the system we’re playing at the moment, it’s difficult to map him into, and how would he be as a centre back in a four?”

Coady arrived at Wolves having played as a centre back for Huddersfield in a back four, but he was used mostly in central midfield for the Molineux men and even appeared at right back during his early time at the club.

His switch to a sweeper came when Nuno Espirito Santo arrived in July 2017, and he has been excellent ever since.

Maybe it might be easier to fit him into the way we’ve played in the last few months as a sitting midfield player, but again he’s not playing there every week,” explained Southgate.

So you’d be asking him to come into a heightened environment and intensity in a role that he’s not playing every week.

That’s a really tough challenge. Maybe we’ll see him in other positions as we move forward, but we’re definitely monitoring him.”

Coady became known to Southgate when he captained England to glory in the 2010 Under-17s European Championships, before he skippered the England Under-20 team at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup, when he was a youngster at Liverpool.

Southgate certainly hasn’t closed the door on picking him in the future.

He’s unfortunate at the moment, it’s not a system we’re looking to play, but we have done in the past, and if we’re thinking about that as a possibility moving forward, then he would definitely be in the frame,” added the Three Lions coach.

Knowing a little bit of him, as a young player he was an outstanding captain at the Under-17s Euros and he’s a great character.

We know 100 per cent that he would fit into the mentality of player and person that we like to work with because he’s a top kid.”