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Gareth Southgate says having female referee for England's World Cup Qualifier in Andorra a 'very important moment'

Kateryna Monzul has been named as the referee for Saturday's World Cup Qualifier between Andorra and England, along with fellow Ukrainian assistant referees Maryna Striletska and Svitlana Grushko; England manager Gareth Southgate: "It's a very important moment for gender equality"

Kateryna Monzul
Image: Kateryna Monzul will become the first woman to referee a senior England men's game

Gareth Southgate says having an all-female team of on-field officials for England's World Cup Qualifier against Andorra is a "very important moment for gender equality".

    Kateryna Monzul has been named as the referee for Saturday's game, along with fellow Ukrainian assistant referees Maryna Striletska and Svitlana Grushko.

    The VAR is Stephanie Frappart of France, but the fourth official and assistant VAR are both male - Denys Shurman and Viktor Matyash respectively.

    PA - Stephanie Frappart
    Image: Stephanie Frappart will be on VAR duty on Saturday

    The historic moment marks the first time a senior England men's game has been refereed by a woman.

    "It's a very important moment for gender equality, absolutely," England manager Southgate said on Friday.

    "For us, though, it's almost irrelevant. It's the quality of the official that's important, not the gender.

    "We're looking forward to being part of what is a special occasion."

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    Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett confirms Kieran Trippier is set to captain England against Andorra on Saturday

    Monzul has taken charge of a senior men's international before, having been part of the first all-female officiating team when San Marino faced Gibraltar in the Nations League in November 2020.

    She also has experience at Women's World Cups and European Championships and is a referee in the Ukrainian Premier League.

    Frappart has officiated in the men's Champions League and also taken charge of a men's World Cup qualifier, becoming one of the sport's female officiating trailblazers in the process.

    The appointments come in the same year that Rebecca Welch became the first female referee appointed to take charge of an EFL game, Harrogate's 2-0 home loss to Port Vale in April.

    When can England qualify for the World Cup?
    When can England qualify for the World Cup?

    England need just three more wins to be sure of qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, starting with Saturday's clash in Andorra.

    'England can challenge for World Cup'

    England are preparing to face Andorra on Saturday having collected 16 points from a possible 18 in Group I, including a 4-0 win over their weekend opponents during the last international break in September.

    Southgate's side then welcome Hungary to Wembley on October 12, as they look to take further steps towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

    The Three Lions were beaten finalists in Euro 2020 this summer and will be among the favourites for the tournament.

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    Gareth Southgate says the optimism among England players has grown significantly over his five years in charge

      "What I liked last month was that there was no complacency in the attitude of the players, there was a feeling of desire to improve and make sure the next steps are the right ones, keep the standards every day and of course we have to qualify first," he said.

      "That is the task over the next six days, to get six points. There is an understanding that we are close, we are ranked well in the world, our results over a period of time have been consistent but we know we want to go one step further than the summer."

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      Highlights of the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I clash between Poland and England on September 8

      There has been plenty of talk about the playing surface at Estadio Nacional de Andorra, where England will play on an artificial pitch.

      Gareth Bale said it was "by far the worst (pitch) I've ever played on" after Wales played there in 2014 but Southgate added: "The first thing is a lot of those interviews were when Wales played here, it has been relayed since then, it is a more up-to-date surface.

      "We have played on some really difficult grass pitches where teams have kept the length of the grass long and we haven't been able to move the ball quickly. For us to have a surface where you know the ball can move quickly is good.

      "All of the players have grown up in academies and the young ages playing on these pitches. We played in Lithuania on one. We have to adapt, the game can be slightly different, the risk is you can always end up playing to feet is an observation I have seen on these types of surfaces.

      "We have got to make sure we play as much as our normal game as we can."

      Southgate later confirmed Kieran Trippier will captain England against Andorra. The Atletico Madrid right-back will be skippering the side for the first time in front of fans, having captained the Three Lions for the first and only time in a friendly behind closed doors against Wales in October 2020.

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      Highlights of the World Cup qualifying group I match between England and Andorra from Wembley on September 5

      Southgate reiterates vaccination stance

      Southgate also reiterated his belief that getting vaccinated is the best way out of the coronavirus pandemic.

      England players have been keeping their cards close to their chest on Covid-19 vaccines following a report some of Southgate's squad were refusing to get the jab.

      Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said last week he does not understand why there is a reluctance among footballers to be vaccinated after the Premier League recently revealed only seven of the 20 clubs have squads where 50 per cent or more of the players have received both doses.

      Southgate has been a key supporter of the UK government's vaccination programme, taking part in a promotional video, and reiterated his stance on Friday.

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      Southgate says he understands some people are more cautious about receiving a coronavirus vaccination but personally believes it is the best way forward for everyone

      He said: "Everybody knows where I stand on the subject, to move out of the pandemic the only way was a vaccination programme. That was essential.

      "There are lots of individual circumstances around that, I understand people could be anxious. When you are in the camp of over 50, there is less to consider, the odds are more straightforward, it's a lot more straightforward decision.

      "I am a believer that is the right thing to do, but I understand there are other topics where everybody would be aligned and we would all have a clear view as a team.

      "With this it is a little bit more nuanced. Lots of people have had the virus so maybe they are feeling antibodies are high, people might have individual medical conditions, some people might have religious reasons.

      "It is a complicated area, that the route out of the pandemic is a vaccination programme. I am yet to hear anyone offer an alternative."

      How to follow England's World Cup Qualifiers

      Follow Andorra vs England on Saturday, October 9 (kick-off 7.45pm) with our live blog, and watch free match highlights on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel, from 11pm.

      England then take on Hungary on Tuesday, October 12 (kick-off 7.45pm), with free match highlights also available from 11pm.

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