England manager Gareth Southgate will wait as long as necessary to give Ukraine the chance to play their World Cup playoff against Scotland.
The manager was speaking after his team were drawn against the United States and Iran in Group B, with a further three sides all potentially in the mix for their group games in November.
Ukraine are due to play Scotland in their play-off at an undefined point in the future. The original date was in March but that was postponed due to the war in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
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While boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Vasily Lomachenko were given dispensation to leave the country to take part in their own fights, with Usyk taking the opportunity but the former lightweight champion turning it down, it is unclear whether Ukraine would allow its footballers the same chance, with many other logistical problems also in the way.
When the outcome of that tie is resolved, Scotland or Ukraine will face Wales in the final playoff decider.
Southgate acknowledged that the group draw throws up a mixture of uncertainty and potential familiarity.
“The first two we’ve not played for quite a while and the third is a total unknown but throws up a possible British derby, we know what they’re all about,” he said.
“For us, we’re in on day one so it’s quite clear what our programme looks like here. The end of the Premier League season and get here as soon as possible.
“We’ve got to get out of the group. The first objective is get out of the group and then build from there.”
When asked about the problems of not knowing the final group occupant, Southgate made it clear that any inconvenience for him did not matter given the circumstances.
"In this situation all of our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, so when that tie is played out is irrelevant really,” he stated.
“It’s for the rest of us to adjust and adapt, and it’s for them to play when they are able to.”
The United States coach Gregg Berhalter was more explicit in his support for Ukraine, seemingly hoping they would come through the play-offs to make it to Qatar.
“You’d like to see Ukraine pull through,” he began. “That’s all you can do. We're patient on that and pulling for them 100%.”
Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville thought the draw was favourable in terms of the quality of the teams, but noted the complicated emotional nature of each opponent.
"I think an interesting group and in terms of the quality of the teams to play, he'd be quite comfortable but what each team brings to it is a level of emotion," he explained.
"Obviously the USA, it will provide great difficulty. The Ukraine-Wales-Scotland conundrum, each of those, whether it's Ukraine or a home nation, brings with it a level of passion, emotion, and feeling, for different reasons.
"Iran, relations at a government level with England, USA, over the last 20-30 years have not always been great."
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