Gary Neville hits back at Roy Keane and Ian Wright for ‘smirking’ at his England XI | Football


Gary Neville wants to see a more conservative England starting XI against Serbia (Picture: ITV Sport)

Gary Neville hit back at Roy Keane and Ian Wright for smirking at the starting XI he feels Gareth Southgate should pick for England’s opening Euro 2024 match against Serbia.

The Three Lions begin their European Championship campaign in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday and will start their Group C clash as the overwhelming favourites.

Southgate’s squad is jam packed full of exciting attacking talent but crowbarring the likes of Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka into the same side and maintaining the required balance appears no easy feat.

Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze, not to mention strikers Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney all offer intriguing options in their own right, but Neville believes Southgate would be justified in being more circumspect with his selection.

Moreover, the Manchester United legend insists it is imperative that the Three Lions boss selects at least two men at the base of his midfield, much to the amusement of Keane and Wright.


‘He will 100% bring a Gallagher or a Mainoo, a Wharton or an Alexander-Arnold always in alongside Declan Rice,’ Neville told ITV Sport. ‘This idea that we’re going to see Bellingham and Palmer, or Bellingham and Foden in front of Rice is a non-starter.

‘They’re smirking alongside me, they’re smirking, they are! Don’t smirk!’ Neville retorted as his fellow pundits sat with huge grins on their faces.

Gary Neville believes Trent Alexander-Arnold should partner Declan Rice in midfield for England

Gary Neville believes Trent Alexander-Arnold should partner Declan Rice in midfield for England (Picture: ITV Sport)

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Keane responded to his former Manchester United teammate with a typical barb and said: ‘Gary wants six midfielders, that’s what he wants!’

Neville, however, stood his ground and implored Southgate to take a pragmatic approach and take inspiration from the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester City.

‘The best team Real Madrid win the Champions League final,’ he added. ‘They have Bellingham playing off the front, they have Kroos, Camevinga and Valverde in behind him.

‘Manchester City they have Rodri and Kovacic at times in midfield to support what they do.

‘Arsenal had to bring Jorginho in to support Declan Rice because he couldn’t do it on their own and they were getting cut open. Every top team has that two or thre in there.

‘This idea that Gareth has got to go in with that one holding midfield player and Declan Rice isn’t a holding midfield player, he wonders off a little bit. For me it’s not ridiculous to suggest they should play with two.’

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