Dronfield-born Gary Cahill has praised interim manager Gareth Southgate for keeping a cool head in trying times for England.
Southgate was planning to lead the u21s against Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina when Sam Allardyce was removed from office.
In the whirlwind fortnight that followed, Southgate accepted the job on a temporary basis, oversaw a 2-0 Wembley win over Malta and, on Tuesday, scraped a goalless draw in Slovenia having dropped Wayne Rooney.
Cahill says: “He has handled things well. It was difficult to come into this situation,” said the Chelsea defender, who won his 50th cap in Ljubljana. We’ve played it down but it is tough I’m sure for him. For us players the job stays the same. We have to listen to what he’s got to say, take it on board and put it into action, but away from the pitch he has to deal with everything else that comes along with it; he’s handled it terrifically well.” Southgate’s current agreement with the FA comes to an end after next month’s matches against Scotland and Spain. He remains bookies’ choice to land the permanent post.
That might have been a harder sell had Slovenia found a way past the brilliant Joe Hart, England having last lost a qualifier seven years ago.
As it stands, the 46-year-old has taken the team top of Group F and continues to head the field.
Asked if he backed Southgate to continue, Cahill said: “I don’t see why not.
“That’s something we have no influence on, all I can say is we have enjoyed working with him, the sessions have been good.
“Time will tell but maybe that’s a big point for us against Slovenia. We started out to win the game but it’s difficult to do that here. I came here a couple of years ago and it’s a difficult place to come.
“If we weren’t going to win the game it was important not to lose it, so we’ll take a point.
“We are top of the group so it is not all doom and gloom.”
Eric Dier, the Tottenham midfielder who took Rooney’s place in the team on Tuesday, described the match as a “battle”.
Slovenia dictated a breakneck tempo in the early stages and the teams ended up at each other’s throats as nerves frayed in the closing minutes.
“it was a very difficult match, it was a bit of a fight,” Dier said.
“They were very aggressive and we had to match that, which I think we did. But we tried to play football at the same time. At times it was a little bit difficult but we knew beforehand it would be and we were prepared for that.
“We knew that was the way they played, they’re very well organised and press very well and are aggressive.
“Obviously after the Euros it’s a rebuilding process. There’s a lot of young players all trying to find our way in the England team with a new manager again. It’s been a difficult time but everyone is coping quite well with that.”