Belfast Telegraph

I'm delighted players have given me big calls to make: Southgate

By Staff Reporter

Gareth Southgate is facing far "more difficult" decisions for England's World Cup opener thanks to preparations that could scarcely have gone better.

Work for Russia has been as smooth as it has been impressive in recent weeks, with comfortable warm-up victories complementing fine work on the training field and increasing team spirit.

Southgate's side honed their skills at a sold-out Elland Road on Thursday evening as they followed the win against Nigeria by beating Costa Rica in a manner more stirring than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.

Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck secured victory from an injury-free evening, giving the England manager a selection headache ahead of the Group G opener against Tunisia on June 18.

"It's more difficult," Southgate said. "No question. There's some serious decisions to take - but in a good way.

"If I was sitting here thinking 'blimey, we have got nobody to play there and nobody to play there' then it would be a very different situation.

"I have 11 or 12 that are going to be difficult to leave out because there is genuine competition for places," Southgate said.

"I think everybody saw that and that's what we said to the players before the game."

Belfast Telegraph

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