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Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham showed maturity to deal with racism against Hungary, says Gareth Southgate

Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham both posted defiant messages on social media in the wake of the monkey chants which were directed at them during England's victory at the Puskas Arena; England face Andorra at Wembley on Sunday and Poland in Warsaw three days later

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Gareth Southgate says it's 'disappointing' that incidents of racial abuse continue to occur, but they must keep fighting to stamp out discrimination

Gareth Southgate has praised the "incredible maturity" of his players after Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were racially abused during the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win against Hungary and says England's players will continue to fight against discrimination.

Monkey chants were directed at the pair from Hungary supporters during the game and the England team were booed and jeered while they took a knee before kick-off in Budapest on Thursday night.

Cups and a flare were also thrown at Southgate's players at the Puskas Arena and FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings into the incidents.

Prior to the Hungary clash, their Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy at Wembley was England's last encounter, when Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka were sent racist messages online after they missed their spot-kicks in the penalty shootout.

Addressing the topic once again, Southgate, who refused to confirm before the game with Hungary whether his side would walk off the pitch if they faced racist abuse, said: "Unfortunately, I don't know how many camps we've had in the last four years but I seem to have been talking about this subject every time the team has been together.

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England players were subjected to incidents of overt racism from some Hungary fans during their 4-0 World Cup qualifying win in Budapest, as Rob Dorsett reports from the Puskas Arena

"I can only reiterate that the players are incredibly mature in the way that they deal with it.

"I think they feel supported by their team-mates which is very important to them and their team-mates must recognise how challenging it can be for our Black players and how disappointing it is that in the modern world we continue to have to answer these questions because of the incidents that happen."

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Sterling and Bellingham, who have both been targets of racial discrimination in the past, posted defiant messages on their social media accounts in the wake of events at the Puskas Arena.

Bellingham, 18, tweeted: "Part of the game and always will be until proper punishments are put in place by those with the power. We can't let hate win, keep smiling!"

Southgate said his squad members will continue to demonstrate their desire to affect change and promote equality in society, as well as in sport, but the England boss also believes his players want their performances to be the first topic of conversation ahead of racism.

He added: "We can only continue taking the stance that we have done and hope that we continue to send the right messages not only to people in football but across society and that everybody keeps progressing.

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Highlights of the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I match between Hungary and England

"We know that it's going to take time and that it feels very slow for everybody but we have to keep fighting that battle.

"We're better prepared for it now unfortunately because we've had to be. So we've learned a lot from the experiences of the past and most importantly in our minds is to be there to support our players.

"There's also a balance there that the lads want to get on with their football, and as much as it's important that we talk about these things publicly, they don't want that to be the uppermost conversation they want their performances on the pitch to be recognised.

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Gareth Southgate has described people who hold racist views as 'dinosaurs' as the England manager denounced discrimination suffered by some of his players in Hungary

"When they played as well as they did the other night they want to be talking about that, they recognise their wider responsibilities and at the right moments they want to affect those things but when they're playing, they want to be judged on their playing."

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Conor Coady says England's players will continue to stick together and fight for societal change to help achieve racial equality

Wolves centre-back Conor Coady, who Southgate confirmed will play on Sunday against Andorra, said his England team-mates have been unaffected by the hostility and racism in Budapest.

When asked if the negativity had impacted the England team spirit, Coady replied: "Not at all, I'll be honest with you. It's something that we don't want to speak about but it keeps happening.

"I think the way in which the boys deal with it, because we're such a close-knit group and once it happens to one person, it happens to us all and we'll carry on doing what we're doing and taking a stance.

"Not just in football but in society we want to try and help [make a] change. It's important that we all stick together and that's something that we'll always do.

"You mentioned the two boys there [Sterling and Bellingham], [they are] absolutely fantastic people and we're a team that will get around them as much as we possibly can."

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England's players were booed in Hungary as they took the knee in their World Cup Qualifier in Budapest

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Patrick Bamford has extended his stay at the Yorkshire club until 2026
Image: Patrick Bamford's goalscoring form for Leeds has earned him an England call-up

Southgate hints Bamford will feature vs Andorra

Southgate had already said there will be "a lot of changes" on Sunday at Wembley and has hinted that Patrick Bamford could be in line for his England debut.

The Leeds United forward, who recently signed a new contract at Elland Road after finding the net 17 times last season in the Premier League, was not named in England's pre-Euros provisional squad earlier this summer, but Southgate thinks the striker has accustomed himself well to life in the current Three Lions camp.

Of Bamford, Southgate said: "It's a special moment for him and for his family. You always think about people that have helped you on that journey.

"We want him to do what he does every week with his club. He has settled in really well with the group, he hasn't had a huge amount of time to be able to train with us yet but I think he's got a really clear picture of how we like to play.

"We just want him to go and enjoy his football. It's an opportunity and he shouldn't put any more pressure on himself than that. We know what he's capable of and we're looking forward to seeing him play."

England's Conor Coady reacts during the international friendly soccer match between England and Austria at the Riverside stadium in Middlesbrough, England, Wednesday June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, Pool)
Image: Conor Coady captained England in their friendly with Austria prior to Euro 2020

Five-time capped Coady, who despite not featuring at all at Euro 2020 played an integral role for team morale during England's run to their first major tournament final since 1966, shared his excitement over the prospect of playing in front of a bumper crowd at Wembley.

The 28-year-old said: "Incredible, honestly. Any time you play at Wembley is a special feeling, a special moment, even the feeling last season [without fans] of being there playing for your country was just incredible.

"And now that my family has a chance to come and watch the game, for everybody in my family it's a proud moment for them so I think it's something where we're ready for the game.

"The boys were fantastic the other night and we want to go out there now and we can't wait for it."

Jadon Sancho will miss England's World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Poland through injury
Image: Jadon Sancho will miss England's World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Poland through injury

One player who will miss out is Jadon Sancho, who has returned to Manchester United for treatment after sustaining a knock during England training earlier this week, a minor injury that saw the 21-year-old miss the triumph over Hungary.

Southgate said: "It's disappointing for Jadon first and foremost, because these opportunities to play for England are important and cherished and we've only got another five camps before a World Cup so for him not to be able to play is a disappointment.

"But we've got a strong squad and we've got other players in good form and playing well so in terms of the depth we're in a good place really."

'England players showing focus and humility'

England lead their 2022 World Cup qualifying group after winning all four of their games so far and Southgate thinks the team have responded well during the first international break following their Euro 2020 campaign.

He said: "I think every time we train, every time we work together there's a level of performance that's expected amongst us as a group of staff and players and we've seen that since we got together on Monday.

"Focus and humility are important qualities because it means then that the talent we have comes to the fore. So if we're working as hard as we should be, if we're mentally in the right place then our talent can come to the fore and we have shown that over a consistent period of time.

"We are 14 or 15 matches without defeat and it means as a group you gain confidence from various situations we've had to face in terms of being behind in games or being ahead in games, tight games that you have to win late.

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Declan Rice says England's World Cup qualifying win over Hungary was 'a really tough performance' in 'a hostile environment'

"And everybody that comes in knows their job, everyone knows the way that we play and that's what we want every time we select a team.

"We've got great trust in all of the squad so whenever we make changes to the team, we always get a good level of focus and performance."

Southgate will have a pool of 23 players to choose from for his side's double-header against Andorra, at Wembley on Sunday, and Poland, at the National Stadium in Warsaw three days later.

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