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Southgate glad fans booed Van Dijk, not England

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Gareth Southgate has said he is happier to hear England fans booing opposition players than voicing frustration at his own team.

Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk was jeered by England fans as the Dutch won 3-1 in the Nations League semifinal on Thursday.

The Liverpool star's treatment left Southgate looking back at a World Cup qualifier in Malta in 2017 when England fans booed their own players as they produced a laboured performance.

"I'm happier they're booing the opposition now than when they booed our players when we started," he told a news conference.

Ogden: Dutch defeat extinguishes goodwill for World Cup run

"We're making progress. Driving through the streets of Malta ... if Virgil has to take a bit, fair enough."

Southgate, whose team face Switzerland in the Nations League third place playoff on Sunday, said he and his players were disappointed not to have reached the final.

But he added: "What is encouraging is that it is very clear that the players are highly motivated as we go forward that they know that we have to be spot-on with the way we prepare.

"I've seen positive signs within that response, and absolutely we should be disappointed with the outcome.

"The match will be different to the semifinal. We want to finish the season on a good note."

Southgate said there were fitness doubts over defender Ben Chilwell, forward Marcus Rashford and midfielder Jordan Henderson.

"We'll probably have to make some changes," he said. "There's a few more to check. I don't want to make wholesale changes.

"We lost an important game on Thursday. We've got thousands of fans here and we have to make sure our performance is one that gives them something back."

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