Gareth Southgate says he is driven to make England the best team in the world, stressing there is no room for “sloppiness” as they seek to end their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign on a high.
England, who face North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday, are confident of being among the frontrunners in next month’s draw for the finals in Germany.
But they were disappointing in Friday’s 2-0 win against Malta at Wembley and will want to improve against lowly North Macedonia, who they beat 7-0 at Old Trafford in June.
“Qualification is complete,” the England boss told British media ahead of the Group C final.
“With the weekend’s games, we might be ranked third in the world every minute (England are fourth in the latest published FIFA rankings), but we are two places away from where we need to be, so we can’t waste games.
“Some of the players have three games to get into a team, some have maybe three to get into a team.”
Southgate said the level of performance had to be “spot on every time”.
World Cup winners Argentina top the standings, with France in second place and Brazil in third. England has been in the top five for five consecutive years.
Asked if the number one was driving him, Southgate said: “Yes, because ultimately you achieve that through consistency and you have to play well in tournaments as well because the rankings are higher in tournaments.
“It also defines behaviors every day on the training pitch, off the training pitch.
“If you’re going to be the team at the top, there’s no room for sloppiness or frivolity. That has to be our motivation.”
England’s final camp of the year was upset by the absentees.
Five players dropped out of the starting squad due to injury and two others left the squad before flying to the Balkans.
The Football Association announced that Kieran Trippier had gone home due to a personal matter, while injury meant Jarrod Bowen was out of camp on Sunday.
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