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England should target ‘respectable’ quarter-final place, says Lineker

The former Three Lions striker feels Gareth Southgate’s side are still short of making a real challenge this summer.

Gary Lineker believes England should be happy with a run to the quarter-finals at the World Cup.

The Three Lions head to Russia next month hoping to improve on a dismal 2014 campaign in Brazil while also trying to eradicate an even worse Euro 2016 exit from the memory.

The likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson are all having fine seasons for their clubs but Lineker feels Gareth Southgate’s side are still short of making a real challenge.

“We are in a transitional phase,” Lineker told Press Association Sport at the launch of the BBC’s World Cup coverage in London.

“We are on the cusp of having a side that will be really competitive but realistically you are looking at two years’ time, certainly four years’ time, because we have got so much talent coming through.

“But at the moment we have a couple of areas where we are a little bit short. If we got to the quarter-finals it would be more than respectable.”

Southgate will announce his 23-man squad on Wednesday rather than a larger provisional group which he would have had to cut down.

And former England midfielder Frank Lampard says it is better that players find out their fate now.

“Gareth has chosen very well in terms of how he is going to do it,” he said.

“It’s a sensitive moment, a lot of players will be hoping to get into that squad. The sooner you get to that point the better.

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England's last tournament outing in 2016 ended in disappointed

“Choose his squad, have back-up and let those players go on holiday and know whether they’re in or they’re out. It’s better for everyone. It’ll help them focus.”

There could be a couple of surprises in Southgate’s squad – Joe Hart has reportedly missed out – with 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon touted as a potential wildcard pick along with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Lampard’s former Three Lions team-mate Rio Ferdinand is a huge advocate of taking Alexander-Arnold.

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Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has had an impressive campaign

“I’d take him, his Champions League form this year has been nothing short of breathtaking,” he said.

“To go in there, a pressure cooker, playing at Anfield, the expectation levels of their fans. We have been there and he took to it like a duck to water.”

Alan Shearer reckons taking the Liverpool youngster, only 19, is a good message to send to other players of the successful England youth teams.

“We have talked about the England youth teams that have been so successful, what a carrot that would send out to the rest of them,” he said.

“What is the point of a guy having a great season, doing incredibly well, and not taking him.

“I think he has done really well, and it would send a message out, that if you work hard and do well it could be you.”

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