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Improving England now considered a 'threat' for Euro 2020 - Southgate

As much as it pains Steve Nicol to say, he's been quite impressed with England in Euro Qualifying.

England are seen as a bigger threat for Euro 2020 than they were at the 2018 World Cup, with a string of strong results having earned the team respect, manager Gareth Southgate said on Friday.

Southgate led England, who haven't won a major title since the 1966 World Cup on home soil, to the semi-finals of the world's biggest football tournament in Russia last year with an exciting brand of football.

"I think we have gained some respect, and I think people would view us as a threat, which certainly wasn't the case ahead of Russia," Southgate told the BBC. "We also know we have got to improve to another level.

"It's hard to assess exactly where we are after this qualifying campaign. But if we look at a World Cup semi-final, a Nations League semi-final, and qualifying with the most goals in Europe, we have done all we can and we are on a good track."

Apart from their good World Cup run, Southgate, who took the national team job on a permanent basis in 2016 and has a contract until 2022, led England to top spot in their Euro 2020 qualifying group to earn a seeding at the finals.

They finished with 21 points from eight games after seven wins and one defeat, having scored 37 goals and conceded six.

England will benefit from playing their group stage matches in Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium.

Asked whether England, who will learn their fate at the Euro 2020 draw on Saturday, were now on par with the top teams, Southgate said if there was any difference it was now marginal.

"In terms of consistency of performance, we are," he said. "Nobody else got to the World Cup semi-finals and the latter stages of the Nations League.

"So we are in that mix of teams, but there are lot of good teams and the difference on one day between any of the top 10 teams is so marginal in football."

England are set to play their Euro 2020 group stage matches at Wembley Stadium, which will also host the semis and final, and Southgate said that was a major advantage.

The group stage will be held at 12 venues across the continent.

"Ten or 12 teams will get the opportunity to play group matches at home, so a lot of teams will benefit from that. That will be a brilliant experience for our players and fans to have that part of the tournament at home," said Southgate.

"We then have to go on the road like everybody else and it becomes more like a normal tournament for the knockout phase. If we are good enough to get to the semi-finals then we have the advantage of that being at Wembley, which would be brilliant."

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