England boss Gareth Southgate has played down the rift between goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and center-back John Stones.
The Telegraph reports that the duo was involved in an on-pitch argument over long balls during England’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on Sunday and appeared to be involved in a heated debate towards the end of the first half over the goalie looking to go long and the Man City defender wanting the ball at his feet.
Speaking about the incident, Southgate said: “I think they were just deciding, we give them pictures and it depends how the opposition press and there were times where it was on to take on.
“We don’t have as long to work on those patterns playing from goal kicks as you do at a club, and also we’re one mistake away from it being more costly, across 38 games that’s different. Those guys are able to make those decisions. We give them possible patterns depending on how the opposition is pressing, there was a little spell where we went long and we just talked about that at half-time.
“We didn’t want to do that every time. But there are moments to go longer – we’ve got a center forward who wins more of his share of the ball. And we shouldn’t be football snobs. It’s great to play out from the back and get to the halfway line in control of the ball, but it’s just as effective to go to the center-forward and be in control of the ball and be able to play from there. The variety is important against top opposition.”
Despite their initial differences, Pickford and Stones shook hands and celebrated England’s win and a clean sheet after the 1-0 victory.