England boss Gareth Southgate says Wembley isn’t crucial to Euro 2020 dream

Gareth Southgate insists playing at Wembley in the last 16 is not all-important for England.

Only victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday night will be enough for the Three Lions to finish top of Group D.

Do that and Southgate’s men are assured of a home tie against the runners-up of Group F – otherwise called the 'group of death' as it contains France, Germany and Portugal.

But the England boss has played down the Wembley factor, admitting having only 22,200 fans in an 90,000 capacity stadium nullifies the usual edge somewhat.

Southgate said: “In terms of playing at home being massively important, it’s about playing well – not about having the home advantage.

“There are seven or eight teams who are hosting, so there are a lot of teams in the group phase having a home advantage.

‘’And, of course, we don’t have a full stadium – and it was a probably a third full with Scottish supporters in Friday’s game

“For England-Scotland, it was a unique atmosphere inside the stadium. “

That goalless draw with Steve Clarke’s men means England could end up coming second or even third in the group.

If that happens they will avoid a potentially massive showdown against Germany, France or Portugal in the fist knockout round.

But they will also be forced to exit London – with a trip to Copenhagen, if second, or Seville, Glasgow or Budapest, if third.

That would mean no return to Wembley until the semi-final stage – assuming they make it that far.

And, of course, that UEFA relent in threatening to switch the two semis and final from Wembley to Budapest.

Europe’s football governors are in talks to persuade the UK government to waive quarantine protocol for their 2,300-strong posse of VIPs wanting to attend those three showpieces.

Southgate, ever the diplomat, swerved an invitation to enter the debate when asked about the possibility of Wembley no longer staging the latter stages.

“That matter is outside my remit,” added the former Three Lions and Aston Villa defender, who reached the last four at Euro 96..

“Other people will be working on that. My focus is on the team and getting into the next stage by qualifying from the group."

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