Gareth Southgate: England boss lifts lid on closed door stadium ahead of Croatia clash

GARETH SOUTHGATE has no problem with his England stars turning the air blue in Croatia tonight.

The Three Lions will play their first ever game behind closed doors in the UEFA Nations League showdown at the HNK Rijeka Stadium.

It means the 8,200 capacity ground will be eerily quiet – and leaves those involved on both sides in danger of being caught out using colourful language.

But Southgate said: “We’ve spent two years encouraging them to speak, so to stop them speaking now would be slightly against what we’ve been trying to work on.

“It’s for the television companies to decide where they put their microphones.

“It’s something we can’t prepare for”

Gareth Southgate

“It’s something we can’t prepare for, other than we train in the same environment every day of the week. That’s all the preparation we need, really.”

The ban on fans is part of Croatia’s punishment after a swastika was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 home qualifier against Italy three years ago.

Some radio stations have got engineers on standby ready to turn the volume down on their broadcasts should swearing take place.

But asked if he and his England team-mates would be toning things down in the empty arena, Manchester City defender John Stones replied: “No, definitely not.

 

Gareth SouthgateGETTY

Gareth Southgate insists he has no problem with the closed door stadium
(Pic: GETTY)

“It’s part and parcel of football (bad language). Emotions runs high and as Gareth said, maybe the television people will watch where they put the microphones.

“People wince at me every day screaming in training – and I could probably still scream more.

“It’s something that will be a change. But we will be used to it training every day at St George’s Park.

“This is on a bigger scale but we spoke about it during the week, how to handle it.”

Stones insists the lack of atmosphere will not faze England as they look to gain some revenge for their World Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Croatia.

He added: “We spoke about what we’re coming into, that we’re coming into this game with none of our fans and especially none of their fans, which will play a bigger part on their behalf.

“It will be a strange situation. I’ve not played in an empty stadium before since going back to FA Youth Cup days. I don’t think we will focus on it too much.

“We trained all week on what to do on the pitch and not to focus on what’s off the pitch.”

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