Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Gareth Southgate delighted with England’s preparations ahead of World Cup

The Three Lions followed up a win against Nigeria with a victory over Costa Rica.

Gareth Southgate could not be happier with England’s World Cup preparations given the kinship and qualities his group are displaying.

With the Group G opener against Tunisia looming large, the Three Lions followed up Saturday’s 2-1 win against Nigeria with a comfortable victory against Costa Rica in their final warm-up friendly.

Marcus Rashford sent a sold-out Elland Road wild with an outstanding opener that substitute Danny Welbeck added to in a victory more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline suggested.

bpanews_8a1d14a1-fac6-4d02-94b3-3f3149f95b57_embedded236890622
England’s Marcus Rashford scored the first goal of the game (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Football’s coming home” chanted fans throughout a largely encouraging display from Southgate’s young squad, who have a brief break before meeting up and heading to Russia on Tuesday.

“I was really pleased with tonight,” the England manager said, having won again without injury concerns.

“Most pleasing was to make 10 changes and still maintain the fluidity and fluency of the game.

We’ve got real competition for places Gareth Southgate

“A little bit different in that obviously (there was) a slightly different profile of players, so maybe we didn’t get as many men in the box at times.

“Defensive side of the game (was) good, a couple of lapses of concentration. Movement of the ball was good, players taking up good positions and we looked a threat. We had energy, pressed really well.

“The first goal was a wonderful, wonderful strike and we’ve got real competition for places.

“So, if I look at the three weeks we’ve had, I couldn’t be happier with the preparation: physically, tactically and in the togetherness of the group.

“We’ve already been through a little bit of adversity together in certain areas, and I think that’s brought them close.”

Southgate pinpointed the scrutiny and criticism of Raheem Sterling’s gun tattoo, as well as the openness in which Danny Rose spoke about his fight with depression.

“Some of the individual situations like Danny and Raheem’s have come up and have allowed us to talk about different things and support each other,” the Three Lions boss said.

“This is a really together group.

“It’s one of the things that the three boys that have been on standby have talked about when I spent time with them today, and that’s not to be underestimated because I think that gives us a real strength going into Russia.”

bpanews_8a1d14a1-fac6-4d02-94b3-3f3149f95b57_embedded236890818
England fans in the stands wave flags during the Costa Rica game (Mike Egerton/PA)

Southgate was speaking for the first time since Rose’s interview about his battle with mental health issues, with the left-back getting a fine reception as he returned to Leeds.

“Firstly, incredibly brave and honest,” the England manager said. “As a team, we are hugely supportive of what he’s done.

“I think it’s been a relief for him to speak about it, having talked to him today.

“But most importantly from his point of view, he wants to put it now behind him.

“It’s something he feels he has come through and he was really keen that the focus turns to his football, so it was brilliant for him to have a game, coming back to Leeds, special for him.

“And in the first half in particular, it was as well as I have seen him play for quite a long time, so we know his quality.

“The big challenge for Danny is that he has had a lack of match minutes this season, but he’s starting to get there and that’s brilliant for all of us.”

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph