Gareth Southgate faces up to 'difficult' England decisions


Rashford opened the scoring with a blistering strike in the final pre-tournament friendly on Thursday, giving manager Gareth Southgate a timely reminder of his skills with a bright, attacking display.

Speaking after the match, Southgate told 5Live Rashford was "desperate to do well".

Southgate told a press conference:"It's more hard and we have some serious decisions to take but in a good way. Every time we meet up with the squad there's great camaraderie, it's a very enjoyable environment to be in and I'm really excited for the coming weeks". The Leicester defender was not put under any pressure by a disappointing Costa Rica side, but did nothing wrong and always found his man when carrying the ball out of defence.

England: Butland (Pope 65), Jones, Stones (Cahill 65), Maguire, Alexander-Arnold (Trippier 65), Henderson (Alli 65), Delph, Rose, Loftus-Cheek (Lingard 79), Rashford, Vardy (Welbeck 60). "He played with a real swagger", said Southgate. I also played in a central three for Southampton with Virgin van Dijk and Jose Fonte, and we went on Southampton's record clean sheet run, six on the bounce.

For all their excitement and everything positive in the first halves of England's matches against Nigeria and Costa Rica, their play slipped after half-time in both games. We have quality across the two line-ups.

Barnes, who is a Lidl grassroots ambassador, has been impressed by the efforts England have made to connect with fans, with squad members speaking openly and honestly in the media and a handful of players stopping late in the evening at Elland Road to sign shirts and pose for pictures with fans.

"My old physio at Aston Villa used to say that only boring people got bored. He's still learning the game really, even as an England worldwide, as he has so few league appearances under his belt and is incredibly raw", he said.

Bear with us here, but The Sun claim to have exclusively revealed the XI players that will start next week.

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The squad head to Russian Federation on Tuesday, but downtime is now the order of the day.

"I know I shouldn't mention it but I've got a tattoo of it on my arm!" he said this week of the No.10 after some unwanted attention for tattoos. "It's starting to get slightly dishevelled".

Asked if he will be able to switch off, he said: "Absolutely no chance!"

It can't be stressed enough that this team may have to be taken with a pinch of salt, as surely nobody except the manager himself can be 100% sure of what he's going to do.

"Having travelled to many such tournaments, including South Africa, where we were warned to be especially careful, I have found that if you aren't looking for trouble you can usually avoid it. If you look at the adversity they've faced, it's brought them closer".

"We've talked about that a lot as a support team".

The rousing reception England received after their fine farewell before the serious business begins was symbolic of the mood around the squad as they get ready to pack their bags for Russian Federation.

"They can't all because some are organising the logistics of everybody else, but we have to share the load and support each other in those moments".