Shaw backs Southgate and wants to start semi-final

Luke Shaw is fit to start England's Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands but does not understand the ongoing criticism of Gareth Southgate.

Picture: AAP Image

The 28-year-old endured his "most frustrating season" to date having dealt with "injury after injury", restricting him to just 15 appearances for Manchester United.

Shaw suffered a hamstring injury in mid-February that he hoped to return from before May's FA Cup final, only to suffer a tear that laid him low for a further six weeks and made him a doubt for the Euros.

Gareth Southgate took a calculated gamble by naming him in England's 26-man squad, with the left-back making his first appearance in 139 days off the bench in Saturday's quarter-final shoot-out win against Switzerland.

"The last four months have been really tough," the Euro 2020 final goalscorer said.

"I think obviously, at the start I was expected to come back a lot sooner but, you know, I went through quite a few setbacks, to be honest. But I'm here now and it was really nice to get on the other night.

"I've been itching to get some minutes. It's been a long while but really pleased that I was able to get on the pitch and get some minutes, and of course, now hopefully get some more in the next game."

Asked if he feels fit to start and play 90 minutes or even longer, Shaw said: "Yeah, of course. I think I am. But obviously that's solely down to Gareth's decision on what he does, but how I feel, I feel fit and ready to go."

Shaw wants to repay the faith of Southgate, who took the bold decision to make the recovering United defender the only out-and-out left-back in his squad.

It was a decision Shaw reveals he feared nearly backfired after suffering another setback during England training in Germany.

Asked if he feared he would miss the whole tournament, he said: "Yeah, I think so. I think purely because of what I'd been through.

"I worked so hard to get to that place where I was at and then for something like that to happen, I was of course worried.

"But I had a scan and it wasn't too bad so it was only a minor one. I knew there was still an opportunity to come back and play later on in the tournament.

"It was just in training. I actually overstretched to be honest. It was only minor and I'm here now."

Southgate has overseen England's greatest period of success since Sir Alf Ramsey's side won the World Cup in 1966 but there has been an air of negativity around him throughout the summer.

The under-fire manager spoke about the ridicule, hurtful personal criticism and beer cups thrown his way after Saturday's quarter-final shoot-out win against Switzerland.

It was his 100th match and a fourth tournament in charge, with left-back Shaw puzzled by those criticising Southgate given his track record and England's history.

"To be honest, I don't really understand the criticism," Shaw said.

"I think what he's done for the country, for us as players as well. I think he's really took us to the next level. I think no manager has really been as successful as him as what he's done recently.

"It's now another semi-final, and for me and us as players we love him. I think he's really good. He's exactly what we need. For us, he always puts the players first and for that we're able to go out on the pitch and try to be at our best.

"I think, for me, personally, I've got a lot to thank him for, because he showed a lot of faith and trust in picking me when he didn't have to. For that, I'll always be thankful.

"But for me now I need to repay the faith that he's shown in me."

Shaw praised the "real togetherness" Southgate has cultivated, saying it has helped them dig deep as both of this summer's knockout matches went to extra-time.

Most importantly, the 28-year-old says he has imbued a belief in a group that was lacking during his first tournament experience in 2014 as England went out in the World Cup group stage.

"Definitely the belief," Shaw said of the change under Southgate.

"I think we've got way more belief now than we ever had and also the togetherness – and it helps with the players we've got now at our disposal.

"We've got world-class players all over the pitch and it's now time, the crunch (time) when those players will step up.

"In these moments that's what you need, and everyone is really looking forward to another semi-final and trying to reach another final."


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