Gareth Southgate insists Dele Alli’s England axe was not due to ‘lazy’ attitude

Dele Alli was arguably England’s biggest star at the last World Cup.

England’s player with X Factor, a guaranteed starter for club and country while his good looks and huge talent made him one of the most marketable assets in the Premier League.

Two years on, Alli did not even make Gareth Southgate’s squad for the start of England’s Nations League campaign but the headline was not about his absence but his role in Tottenham ’s fly-on-the-wall documentary.

Southgate has promised to watch the new Amazon Prime documentary but has made it clear that Ali's absence is not down to his attitude in training but simply because the likes of Mason Mount and Phil Foden have overtaken him.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho labelled Alli “a f ** lazy guy in training” in the show and also criticised his training in a conversation with chairman Daniel Levy.

Mourinho was filmed telling Levy: “I told Dele very directly he doesn’t train well. He’s not a good trainer, he’s not a disaster but he’s not like Harry Kane.

“Sir Alex Ferguson gave me only one advice in two and a half years [at Manchester United ] — buy Dele Alli [for] that mentality, the aggression he has. But he’s not a good trainer and we need to find the right motivation for the guy.”

It was a fascinating insight into Mourinho’s view of Alli who remains one of the most talented midfielders in England but clearly needs to win back Southgate’s trust and confidence to regain his place in the squad.

Southgate is fully intending to watch the Amazon documentary but suggested that Alli’s absence was not down to his levels in training but more because others have overtaken him.

Suddenly the likes of Mount, Foden and even James Maddison (although injured this time) are ahead of Alli even though arguably they are not as experienced or talented as the Spurs midfielder.

Alli on song provides goals, assists and also the aggression which Fergie so admired – and that is the challenge to get him back into the team and at his best.

But Alli’s bad luck with injuries since the World Cup have been the biggest obstacle and, in fairness to Mourinho, the Spurs boss did get him back to form after taking over last year.

But Southgate justified his decision not by what Mourinho said in the documentary but because Alli’s performances towards the end of the season trailed off, although he did also serve a ban for an ill judged comment about coronavirus on social media.

Southgate said: “I've not seen the documentary although I'm very much looking forward to watching it.

“But, no, I just think with Dele when you look at the squad we've picked you know the performances of those players in that post-lockdown period, that end of season period, they all performed exceptionally well.

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“So I think Dele wasn't necessarily getting in the team towards the end for Tottenham and then had an injury at the end of the season so he's had a very stop-start couple of years with injuries.

“Then he had a good spell when Jose first took over so we know what he's capable of, we know that there are some talented players around the country in those attacking areas of the pitch.

“We really have great competition for places and it's hard to pick a squad and to leave people out but, as I said, I felt that others toward the end of that period, and in the last three, four months in particular in those attacking areas just played a little bit better.”

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