GELSENKIRCHEN: England manager Gareth Southgate has said that his team will need to show exceptional form to even reach the knockout stage of the Euro 2024 finals, let alone win their first major trophy for 58 years.

Uncertainty surrounds the future of Southgate. He has been in charge since 2016 and has hinted that failure to win the Henri Delaunay trophy could mark the end of his tenure.

Southgate led England to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, the Euro 2020 final and the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar. His contract expires in December.

Addressing the scheduled media conference ahead of England opening Euro duel with Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, Southgate said: “I have been in the job for eight years, I understand the landscape. Everyone who has been in the job has experienced the same thing.

“I just try to prepare the team in the best possible way and we’re really looking forward to the beginning of the tournament.

“You’ve seen Germany play the way they did last night, Spain today [against Croatia]. There are a lot of good teams in this tournament. We have to be exceptional to progress through the group and the opportunity to go further.

“I am hugely excited – to lead your country into a major tournament is an amazing honour, a great privilege. It’s just as exciting as it was ahead of Russia, if not more so.”

Southgate has revealed that he will be leaning in particular on four key members of his squad.

He said: “We have a very open relationship with all of the players. We have actually put a small leadership group together for this tournament now with Harry [Kane], Kyle Walker, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham because there’s a different dynamic to this group.

“There’s a lot of younger players and I want to make sure that the voices of the younger players, I am in touch with that as well.

“So, I don’t want to leave here with any stone unturned. I don’t want to have missed anything. It’s always important to know what the players are thinking.

“They have good views, they have good experiences and, also, there will be some decisions I will take without talking to any of them.”