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Ashworth backs players to do England proud at World Cup

Football Association technical director likes the look of Southgate’s squad.

Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth believes England boast the energy and vibrancy to make the country proud at the World Cup.

Preparations for Russia stepped up a gear this week, with the bulk of the 23-strong squad meeting up at St George’s Park.

Gareth Southgate has picked a young, inexperienced group, yet it is one with traits that FA technical director Ashworth believes will appeal to fans.

“I think hopefully it’s a team that you connect with,” he said in a message to supporters.

“It’s a young team, it’s a vibrant team, it’s an energetic team and I think over the last few games and in qualification they’ve proved that we can play in a way that the nation can be proud of.

“So, hopefully we’ll come back from Russia and you’ll be proud of the team.

“We know we have to win some football matches along the way in order to do that but we’ll be going there with every intention of making you as a nation proud.”

Harry Kane has been named as the man who will wear the captain’s armband in Russia.

“Fantastic, brilliant,” Ashworth told England’s YouTube channel. “Delighted for Harry, delighted for everyone at Tottenham

“Harry has come through our youth system, he’s played at a majority of age groups.

“I first came across him really at the Under-20 World Cup, but he’s been really good across all of our age groups, obviously consistently in the Premier League for a number of years now.

“And he has all the attributes of a captain: he is a great leader, he is a great role model and I am sure he’ll be a great success for England.

“He is quite young in years, but not in maturity and there’s been a number of examples across the years of captains being young – Ray Wilkins was captain of Chelsea at 18.

“I think if people have shown the right attributes, it doesn’t matter with age and Harry certainly has all of those attributes.”

Kane only has 23 caps under his belt, but Southgate has shown a willingness to trust personality and promise over experience.

This is England’s third youngest squad to go to a World Cup and the average age could drop further after the tournament.

Southgate praised the likes of Ryan Sessegnon, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden at last week’s squad unveiling as well as Mason Mount.

Chelsea midfielder Mount, 19, shone on loan in the Eredivisie at Vitesse last season and is currently training with the senior squad at St George’s Park, as are Angus Gunn, 22, and Nathaniel Chalobah, 23.

“I think one of the things about St George’s Park and Gareth in particular is the way we’ve connected the pathways,” Ashworth said.

“So behind me you’ll see Mason Mount as one of the players training with the senior team – and that’s off the back of doing so well with the development teams and an outstanding year on loan at Vitesse.

“It enables us to do things like that.”

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