Gareth Southgate warns England players over negative headlines
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 18/03/17 11:22pm
Gareth Southgate has told his England players not to create negative headlines on their nights off but will not resort to heavy-handed curfews.
Wayne Rooney found himself on the front pages during the last international break after posing with fans at the team hotel in the early hours of the morning.
It was during scheduled down time between matches, but the images were still considered unflattering enough to warrant an apology and a concession they were "inappropriate" from the national captain.
Phil Jagielka was also pictured with Rooney, while reports of others players partying further afield soon followed.
Southgate was interim manager at the time but now is now in control on a permanent basis and wants his squad to use their free time in a less controversial fashion.
"They have to have time to relax, unwind and have down-time. It would be crazy to lock lads away," he said.
"But moving forward I am going to slightly throw that to the players. How do they see it? How do they want to be as a team? What do they want to achieve?
"If you are at your club, you train and go home and you can have a switch off, you can see your family. In the international environment that is different so you have to have time to clear your head.
"What they do and how they do that is a good discussion to have as what they can't have is the possibility of anything that will affect their performance. That is going to put pressure on them by being at the other end of the newspaper to the sport.
"My job as coach is to try to relieve that pressure so we don't want to put extra pressure on ourselves with things that can be avoided."
Meanwhile, Liverpool's Ben Woodburn will join the senior Wales squad for the first time next week.
The 17-year-old prospect was born in Nottingham but qualifies for Chris Coleman's side through his grandmother and has been involved in their age-group sides for several years.
Southgate admits the Football Association showed interest in flipping his allegiance but even a coincidental meeting at the Reds' Melwood training complex did not do the trick.
"I saw him at Liverpool a couple of weeks ago and made sure I gave him a nice ruffle of the hair!" laughed Southgate.
"He has always been aware of an interest from England. But he was in Wales' system from very early and that is ongoing with so many players dual nationality now.
"Getting in first is often key which makes things complicated as you are never quite comfortable with calling really young players in. We don't really want to go to under-14 internationals as they are so far away - you don't even know if they are going to be a professional, let alone an international."