England include unlucky goalkeeper on their bench for pre-World Cup friendly

03 June, 2018, 18:31 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • World Cup places up for grabs says England boss Southgate

England played with the self-belief one would expect of holders in 1970 and briefly gave a tidy account of themselves in 1998 as they built on the feelgood factor from Euro 96.

That explanation has not satisfied some critics, but Southgate has defended his player, wishing the public could get to know the 23-year-old and his "lovely sense of humour" better.

England dominated the opening 45 minutes, with Gary Cahill and Harry Kane netting the goals, before an early second half strike from Alex Iwobi made it a harder task for the hosts. He is utilising his resources sensibly, with surely only minor fine tuning left at this late stage. They have three or four players who can make a difference anytime.

"The atmosphere is going to be great and we hope to enjoy it and possibly win the game", he said. It is the kind of competition for places Southgate will be pleased to cultivate.

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The kit contains a feathered pattern, said to be a tribute to the 1994 World Cup team, which reached the last-16 in their first appearance in the finals.

He tried to keep the Eagles midfield in shape, but as forced to do a lot more after several players around him failed to step up their game.

That belief, according to Southgate, is why Kane was the obvious choice for captaincy.

With no Liverpool players in the starting line-up due to their involvement in last weekend's Champions League final, Eric Dier will play at the base of midfield.

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Gareth Southgate's preparations for the UEFA World Cup finals in Russian Federation have been some of the smoothest and least fraught that England have enjoyed in recent memory. If not, this looked the sort of set-up that could flourish.

"Some slightly better decision making or quality and we would have scored more".

England kick off their World Cup campaign on June 18, with their fixture against Tunisia in Volgograd. This performance, in this system, provided a timely reminder.

Southgate has yet to settle on his preferred starting team and fielded Jesse Lingard alongside fellow attacking midfielder Dele Alli on Saturday, providing England with pace and creativity that led to a string of first-half chances. However, Southgate's selection conundrum in goal remains, even if Pickford conceded against the Super Eagles. England have not won a knockout match at a World Cup since beating Ecuador in Stuttgart in 2006, so long ago that Antonio Valencia had not yet signed for Wigan Athletic, never mind Manchester United.

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England can be satisfied with their win and their performance, albeit with the usual rider of a second half disrupted by a raft of substitutions, and Southgate's tactical framework is now clear.

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