England star back with squad after flying home for birth of daughter

06 July, 2018, 18:25 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
  • Jordan Pickford of England makes a save during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium

England have the most inexperienced squad left in the tournament and should, in theory, be hitting their peak at the European Championships in 2020 or the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, but Southgate believes it would be a mistake to adopt that thinking.

England's dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Colombia on Tuesday was emotional - to say the least - and now, only Sweden stand between the team and a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

"For sure, going to extra-time I'm pleased we did what we did in the Belgium game even more because I think it's an accumulation of fatigue making things more hard".

From a public relations standpoint, England's Russian summer has been a runaway triumph at home - with the bond between supporters and players rebuilt after a few rocky years. "There's a real buzz around the team at the moment, and I'm sure most fans will do their utmost to be in Samara on Saturday". I hope it doesn't go to penalties again in the quarter-final though.

There may well be a price to pay in terms of injuries, with concerns over Jamie Vardy (groin), Dele Alli (thigh) and Ashley Young (ankle) in particular, but Southgate was not underestimating how much beating Colombia meant.

"Teams have done it to us over the years, for many years".

Southgate added: "Every single day now when I walk down the street it is always mentioned to me".

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Neymar has been the most fouled player in the tournament thus far, with defenses keen on using rough tactics to slow down and, at times, attempt to intimidate the Brazil forward.

England weathered a nervy spell in extra time before the dreaded penalties commenced - with decades of shootout misery undoubtedly in the minds of Southgate's men and the punters in Weston's pubs and clubs alike.

"There are some really good players and some really good teams".

"Today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch. a fatal mistake for a whole country", he said of the incident that put England 1-0 ahead in the second half.

Preparation has been key for England at this World Cup, having not only have flourished from set-pieces but time spent strategising for shootouts.

"Justice as Lions win do-or-Dier shootout" following the 4-3 win on spot-kicks in Moscow.

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