Rio Ferdinand has questioned Gareth Southgate’s mentality after the England boss gave an explanation for snubbing Jadon Sancho at Euro 2020.
Sancho, 21, is yet to feature for England at the tournament and even found himself outside of the squad for his country’s opener against Croatia.
Even though the winger managed a phenomenal 16 goals and 20 assists for Borussia Dortmund last season, Southgate did not turn to him in the Three Lions’ goalless draw with Scotland.
Southgate justified passing over Sancho by pointing to his relative inexperience on the big stage, as he is competing at his first major tournament and has made just 10 starts for England.
“We’ve got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time,” said the Three Lions boss.
“So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals. Jadon is in that mix. He’s trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make.”
But Ferdinand is nonplussed by Southgate’s explanation and insists Sancho must be judged on his recent form for his club as well as at international level.
“You go on what they’ve done at their club and the last three years, in terms of output, Sancho has been the second best player in terms of goal involvement over the last three years – and he’s done it at Dortmund.
“So to think that you’re talking about experience… he’s played more games than [Phil] Foden at the top level as well as [Mason] Mount and [Jude] Bellingham.”
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Ferdinand also urged Southgate to be courageous by playing Sancho in England’s final Group D game, against Czech Republic on Tuesday night.
He added: “I just feel that sometimes as a manager you’ve got to be brave. You’ve got to be brave and don’t err on the side of caution.
“In Southgate’s own mind he’s going to have to be brave because I think naturally he’s a more conservative person.
“In his own mind he’ll think he’s being brave when we’re sitting here going, ‘Just play him!’, because we’ve seen him play at the top level
“But if you’re sitting there as Gareth Southgate, you’ve got to go against your natural instinct.”
Although England have qualified for the knockout stage of Euro 2020, they will need to defeat Czech Republic at Wembley in order to top the group and set up a last-16 clash with the Group F runners-up.