Gareth Southgate Jack Grealish
England boss Gareth Southgate with Jack Grealish during a Euro game Laurence Griffiths/AFP News

England midfielder Jack Grealish has slammed the "awful" pitch in North Macedonia after their Euro 2024 qualifying meeting.

Several English players suffered bad cuts, including Grealish, during their 1-1 draw with North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday. England is one of the 21 teams to have qualified for the main draw of the 2024 UEFA European Championship set to take place next summer.

Issues over Skopje pitch

The newly laid turf at Skopje's Todor Proeski Stadium was supposedly rock hard. As per players' complaints, the surface was full of sand and stones, which caused cuts and grazes. Gareth Southgate's England players raised concerns over the pitch even before the game and did not even warm up in certain areas to try and save the grass.

The English players, who already feared injuries during the game, were just relieved that none of them suffered a serious injury on the pitch. It is understood that the issue with the surface in North Macedonia has been reported to UEFA in the past.

"I have got cuts all over. The pitch was awful. It baffles me how pitches like that are acceptable, to be honest. There were like little stones everywhere. Phil has cut his hand because of the stones on the pitch but yes, it is part of what you are going to get to some places," said Grealish, whose Manchester City is set to take on Liverpool this weekend.

Harry Maguire: Never played on a pitch that bad

Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Harry Maguire also slammed the Skopje pitch.

"Where do I start? I've not played on a pitch as bad as that for a while. It was basically sand, my foot kept getting stuck, you saw in the first half, I made a challenge in the first half after my foot got stuck in the ground." He added that his "knees are all grazed from the sand".

‌"Every time we went on the floor, it was sand, it was like falling on a beach, it was that bad out there," added Maguire.

Maguire went on to say that England do not want to make excuses as they are all international players and are expected to play on anything. But he was happy that all his teammates came away with no severe injuries.

As many as 21 teams have been qualified for Euro 2024, including the hosts Germany. Among the teams in the UK, Southgate-managed England have secured a direct entry to Euro 2024, with Scotland having also bagged a place, while Wales will compete in the play-offs in March. Northern Ireland had a tough tournament and have been eliminated, and so have the Republic of Ireland.

Last edition's runners-up, England, went unbeaten in the group stage as they clinched six victories and two draws. With 20 points, England finished at the top of Group C, six points ahead of second-placed Italy. Scotland, meanwhile, recorded five wins, two draws and a loss from eight games as they finished second in Group A, behind leaders Spain.

A total of 24 sides will compete in Euro 2024 for the coveted title, with 21 now confirmed - 20 through qualification, plus hosts Germany. The other three places will be decided through the play-offs, which are scheduled to take place in March next year.

Several top players from the current season of the Premier League featured for England against North Macedonia, including Grealish, Maguire, Phil Foden, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice. If they had gotten injured, it would have been a massive blow to their respective clubs, with the league season set to resume this weekend.

On Saturday, Manchester City are set to host Liverpool at Etihad and the winner of the game will claim the top spot in the table. The Reds are just a point behind City after 12 games.