Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'Wheater Trip Weakens Boro' Southgate Lashes out over His Star's Trek to Minsk

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'Wheater Trip Weakens Boro' Southgate Lashes out over His Star's Trek to Minsk

Article excerpt

MIDDLESBROUGH manager Gareth Southgate has angrily questioned why defender David Wheater had to fly out to Minsk "to watch the senior squad play" immediately following an appearance for England Under-21s.

Wheater played the full 90 minutes of England's European Under-21 Championship play-off second leg against Wales at Villa Park on Tuesday.

He then headed off to Birmingham Airport with Under-21 goalkeeper Joe Hart, of Manchester City, to link up with the senior squad in Belarus.

Neither Wheater nor Hart took any part in England's World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, which has led to Southgate questioning why one of his players should have to commit himself to so much unnecessary travelling ahead of Boro's Premier League clash against Chelsea tomorrow lunchtime.

Southgate said: "I have to be very careful about my reaction. I don't want to detract from what was a marvellous England performance. I am absolutely delighted for David on a personal basis because I know how much it means to a young player to be called into the full squad.

"But as manager of Middlesbrough, I am in a situation where I am trying to prepare for a Premier League game. So I am not too impressed when one of my players is asked to take a flight to Belarus to watch the senior squad play, immediately after taking part in an Under-21 match."

This is the second time 21-year-old Wheater has been involved with a full England squad, though on neither occasion has he seen any competitive football.

Southgate said: "It's great for David, but it's an example of circumstances where we as a club have to defend ourselves. As Middlesbrough manager I feel that we have to fight our own corner. We are playing Chelsea at 12.45pm on Saturday and it's important to galvanise everything we can because we are playing one of the big boys.

"It's difficult to reason how if you have been playing in two games for the Under-21s and you have done your job, you can then be asked to watch the first team. …

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