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Southgate backs Sancho but admits he doesn’t deserve England spot

Gareth Southgate admits Jadon Sancho’s form at Manchester United has not been good enough to deserve an England call-up but included him in his most recent squad to show he retains “belief” in the forward.

Sancho joined United from Borussia Dortmund in the summer but has so far failed to carry over his fine form into the Premier League.

The 21-year-old scored 49 goals and provided 60 assists over the past three seasons in Germany before returning to England to sign for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Since then he has struggled and has yet to register a shot on target in his first five Premier League appearances.

However, Sancho – who suffered online racist abuse after coming off the bench to miss a penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final shoot-out defeat to Italy – has retained the faith of Three Lions boss Southgate for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

“Does he deserve to be in on these performances over the last few weeks? Well probably not,” Southgate said of the former Manchester City youngster.

“But I think we feel we have invested in Jadon over a period of time, we believe he can get to a high level.

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“I would like some time with him to chat with him and help that process that’s going on at Manchester United as well and I think for him to feel that we have belief in him at this point is a good message.

“So again we’re talking about there’s no perfect solution here and you could easily throw another name at me that we’ve left out in the past and say, ‘well you didn’t deal with them in the same way’.

“We try to individually do the right thing at the right time, send the right message and sometimes the right message is to leave a player out and maybe they respond and that’s the right thing but we feel with Jadon at this time it is important for us to keep him with us.”

Southgate also believes Sancho will need time to adapt to the rigours and demands of Premier League football.

Asked if Sancho’s early United form had been a concern, the England manager replied: “With Jadon I’m not surprised, really.

“The Bundesliga is totally different, Dortmund is a big club but Manchester United is one of the biggest in the world.

“There’s some adaptation to that, there’s a definite adaptation to the league, you’re not going to get the goals and assists numbers anywhere near in our league, that you are in the Bundesliga.

“There are some very good teams but also it’s a good league for young players to develop him because there are some teams that aren’t at that level.

“Our league, every game is intense and tough and he’s probably just starting to realise that.”