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Winning games not the only priority for England's Southgate

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Winning games not the only priority for England's Southgate
England - Gareth Southgate Press Conference - King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain - September 10, 2018 England manager Gareth Southgate and England's Harry Maguire during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers   -   Copyright  ANDREW BOYERS(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – England’s narrow defeat by Spain in their UEFA Nations League opener was their third successive loss but manager Gareth Southgate said on Monday that developing the team was more important to him than bettering his win record.

Southgate’s side have lost three in a row for the first time since 1988 with Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Spain following losses to Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals and Belgium in the third-place playoff.

England next face Switzerland in a friendly on Tuesday.

“The priority isn’t me and my record, it’s developing the team. I can’t make decisions just to try to get a win. I’ve got to focus on the processes,” Southgate told reporters when reminded about the possibility of a fourth loss on the trot.

“Otherwise I’d make decisions to boost my win record. Last summer we played friendlies against Brazil, France, Germany and Spain. If it was about my win record then we would not have.

“The decisions are for the team. The most important thing is to improve the team and develop their experience. I can live with what people say about my record… I’m comfortable in my own skin in that regard.”

Southgate could make changes for the game against Switzerland at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium.

“Some of them haven’t had football with their club this year so they need to play. Some of them are on the back of having a heavy summer so we don’t need them to play so much,” the former England defender added.

“I’m hoping to look after the players and give them a bit of what they need and I know we’ll get a good performance because whenever we have changed the team in recent months the level of performance has always remained the same.”

Southgate said midfielder Dele Alli, who withdrew from the squad with a minor muscle strain, could be fit for Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League game against Liverpool on Saturday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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