Gareth Southgate makes interesting Newcastle United claim as Graeme Jones enjoys England debut

England boss Gareth Southgate had hoped to play a friendly game at St James’s Park ahead of Euro 2020 but revealed Covid-19 impacted plans.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 10:43 am

The Three Lions played the first of two warm-up fixtures at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Wednesday evening with a 1-0 win against Austria.

Romania are the next to visit Teesside before Southgate’s men face Croatia in their Group D opener.

The home of Newcastle United last hosted an England fixture in March 2005, when goals from David Beckham and Steven Gerrard sealed a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan.

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Newcastle United assistant coach Graeme Jones pictured on England duty. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

And Southgate admitted he would have liked to have visited Tyneside but Covid guidelines made those wishes a no-go.

He said: "The initial decisions come from the FA.

"They wanted to take the team to the North East and we were hoping to play at Newcastle as well.

"If we had the opportunity with full stadiums and without having to set the stadiums up for Covid, we would have liked to have used both stadiums.

"When I knew we were coming to the North East, I knew the training facilities here were a fabulous environment.

"It has been great and very relaxed for the boys."

Meanwhile, United assistant coach Graeme Jones enjoyed his first game as a part of Southgate’s backroom staff.

The Gateshead-born 51-year-old was pictured on the bench next to Southgate during the Austria encounter after he was asked to join the Three Lions’ coaching team last week.

Speaking about the decision to bring Jones on board, Southgate said: “I’ve known Graeme quite a while – he’s got fantastic experiences of tournament football of course with Belgium and Roberto Martinez.”

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