EDDIE Howe believes criticism of England under Gareth Southgate is unfair and says he thinks international managers are on a hiding to nothing due to a lack of preparation time.

Southgate, appointed permanently in November 2016, presided over the final stages of a World Cup qualifying campaign which saw the Three Lions top their group and remain unbeaten.

But the former Middlesbrough and England under-21 boss came in for some heavy stick for their style of play, particularly during uninspiring 1-0 wins over Slovenia and Lithuania last month.

England’s credentials will be tested when they begin their warm-up friendlies for next year’s finals in Russia with a Wembley double-header against the top two ranked teams in the world.

They entertain Joachim Löw’s Germany, the four-time World Cup winners, tomorrow before hosting Brazil, who last won the tournament in 2002, on Tuesday.

Southgate named in his squad uncapped trio Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham and Joe Gomez, while a fourth – Burnley’s Jack Cork – was drafted in earlier this week following a number of withdrawals.

Cherries boss Howe, heavily linked with the England job before Southgate was appointed, was asked by the Daily Echo for his take on their qualifying campaign.

Howe, capped twice by England under-21s during his playing days with Cherries, said: “I think qualifying itself is difficult enough and I don’t think we should ever take that for granted.

“We haven’t done that for every major competition. First and foremost, you want to get there because that is the main objective so full credit to the manager and players for that.

“Once the tournament starts, you want to try to be a success and that is a different matter.

“When you look at the build-up time managers have – maybe two or three days maximum to prepare a team and build a philosophy – I think that makes it very difficult.

“I know a lot of people criticise managers but they simply don’t have time with the players to make a substantial difference to the team.”

Asked whether he felt countries should have more time to prepare for fixtures, Howe replied: “No, not from my position.

“I am just making the point that I think it is very difficult in international football to criticise a manager for his style of play.”

Howe was also asked whether he would like to see former Cherries loan star Jack Wilshere force his way back into the England reckoning.

He said: “I am sure most England supporters would say someone of Jack’s creativity would be something they would want to see in a World Cup squad.

“I think he has the ability to open a door in a tight game and he did that countless times for us when he was here.

“I loved working with Jack. He is a great professional and a real team player as well.

“When you want to build a World Cup squad, you need good characters and individuals, even if they are not starting for their club every week.

“It is not my call, but Jack would certainly be someone of that make-up and I am sure everyone would want to see him back playing regularly to get himself in a position that he could get close to it.”