Gareth Southgate has defended his weakened selection against Belgium, and a reluctance to bring Harry Kane off the Tug McGraw Authentic Jersey bench as his side chased an equaliser, by suggesting Englands last-16 fixture against Colombia on Tuesday is the nations biggest game for a decade.

The 1-0 defeat here has checked English momentum, with Kane kicking his heels among the substitutes and his lead at the top of the tournaments scoring charts still at one goal, to leave Southgates team confronting an awkward challenge at Spartak Stadium next week. The manager accepted the eight changes to his lineup Belgium made nine had left him open to criticism but insisted all his players bought into a tactic aimed at the bigger picture.
This was a game we wanted to win but the knockout is the biggest game for a decade for us and we had to make sure our key players were preserved, said Southgate, who saw Roy Hodgsons approach heavily scrutinised after he made six changes for the third group game at Euro 2016. You have to look at the bigger picture sometimes and make decisions which, in some quarters, might be criticised. But everyone understands in the dressing room and in the group what were trying to do.
With respect, in the Euros I think we were only ahead for a few minutes of any of the games. Here weve played extremely well. Weve played well in the games leading into and at the tournament, and I dont think weve played poorly at all tonight. We dont like losing and dont want to lose matches, but the primary objective from the evening weve got. And if wed put Harry on for 10 minutes and someone had raked his ankle, that would have been ridiculous. The knockout game is the important one.
Of course we have a responsibility to the supporters, and the support in the stadium was absolutely outstanding tonight. The support and encouragement from home has been brilliant. But when youre a leader and a manager, you have to make decisions which are right for your group to achieve the primary objective. Sometimes those decisions will be criticised. I understand that. But only one person makes that decision with all the full facts and managing a tournament in mind: physically, medically, tactically for the benefit of the group. Im entirely comfortable with the decision. Sometimes you have to make decisions for the bigger picture.
Kane will return against Colombia with Englands first-choice lineup now able to begin their preparations for Colombia, while those who featured here conduct recovery work back in Repino. Southgate allayed any fears that John Stones might have been injured after the defender sat out the second half with heavy strapping on a calf, suggesting the plan had always been to replace him with Harry Maguire at the break.
Both will be available on Tuesday, when England, ranked 12th in the world, will confront a team ranked 16th who have found their feet in the tournament after successive wins. Theyve got some outstanding individuals but I believe its a game we can win, Southgate said. We feel were a team who are improving. We have levels still to reach and work to do, but thats nothing we didnt already know.
Thats not a bad thing. If wed won again tonight, the reality of where we are might not have been in peoples mind. We know where we are. We know how immaculate we have to be to win matches against the best teams, and we have that challenge still to come. Whatever happens next week, the selection against Belgium was the right decision as far as Im concerned. People will say it is only the right decision if we win next week, but were potentially going into a match with extra time having risked players Kyrie Irving Authentic Jersey here we didnt need to risk. wholesale jerseys from china cheap nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys