Belfast Telegraph

World Cup: England's young lions can reach latter stages with their fearless style, vows Lingard

By Simon Peach

Jesse Lingard is enjoying Gareth Southgate's "new revolution" and vowed that England will retain their fearless approach amid increasing World Cup pressure.

Colombia lie in wait in the last 16 tomorrow in Moscow, where the Three Lions will attempt to reach the quarter-finals with a first knockout win since 2006.

It is a mouth-watering opportunity for England's young squad after promising Group G wins against Tunisia and Panama, when performances as much as results helped bring about renewed positivity around the national team.

Lingard cannot wait for the match and believes a bright future lies ahead under Southgate, who gave the attacking midfielder his debut on his first match in charge of the England team.

"It feels like a new revolution," the attacking midfielder said.

"The manager has come in with great ideas and a great idea of how he wants us to play.

"The formation suits us perfectly and as a group of lads.

"It's a youthful squad but we've still got experienced players in there and the team spirit is amazing at the moment - everyone has come together and is really bonding.

"We're excited, we're enjoying the World Cup and we have just got to keep going now."

But excitement goes hand in hand with tension at this juncture, with England teams of the past failing to cope with mounting pressure.

"We don't need to change too much," Lingard, playing at his first senior tournament, said.

"No matter what round we're in, we're still going to play the same. We're going to play with no fear and play with that freedom.

"That's what got us here today, so why change? We won't change for anyone or any team.

"I think everyone's excited, more than anything.

"It's a great chance for us as players to really go far in this competition and we believe in ourselves that we can do that.

"At this moment in time, it's game by game.

"We prepare for every game and every opponent is different so we go into the game with the same mindset and the same goal."

Lingard will "enjoy the occasion" rather than worry about the possibility of having to pack his bags and head home the following day.

The 25-year-old cannot help but dream of a return to Moscow for the July 15 final, yet the focus now is on overcoming a Colombia side boasting a variety of threats - including former Manchester United team-mate Radamel Falcao.

"A great finisher," he said of the striker, who struggled at Chelsea after a difficult spell at Old Trafford.

"I think in and around the box he's lethal. We'll be aware of that. But you know we've got the men to deal with that.

"I think they're a great side. A tough side, a physical side, so we're aware of that.

"But our qualities and our threats can cause them problems too."

Lingard never got to play a competitive match alongside Falcao, with the attacking midfielder ending the 2014-15 season on loan at Derby as he recovered from a knee ligament injury sustained on his United debut.

That injury on the opening day of the campaign could easily have meant his first United appearance was his last, yet the late developer has kicked on and become a key figure under Jose Mourinho.

"He's been great with me," Lingard said of the Portuguese, who backed England as World Cup winners before the tournament.

"He's played a massive part in my development and I can only thank him for that."

Meanwhile, Harry Kane says he has limited his use of social media to help him remain focused at the World Cup.

England captain Kane is the top scorer at the tournament in Russia having struck five goals in his team's opening two wins before being rested against Belgium.

The 24-year-old striker failed to score during the Three Lions' disastrous Euro 2016 campaign two years ago and admitted that using sites such as Twitter then had a detrimental effect.

Asked what he learned from his first major international tournament, Kane said: "For me, it's stay away from the hype of it all.

"I was so excited about the Euros, whether that was being on Twitter all the time, or being on news apps, or getting excited because you want to see what everyone's talking about.

"I feel like it had a negative effect because I was reading too much, I was thinking too much.

"I feel like I'm at my best when I'm just free in my mind and I'm just playing football, so this tournament I've changed that, I've stayed off social media as much as possible."

Kane, who is preparing to return to Gareth Southgate's starting line-up the game against Colombia, also revealed he has limited the number of World Games games he has watched in an attempt to ease pressure.

"(I've) watched some of the (other) games but not watched too man where you get caught up in everything," he added.

"I think that's the best possible way to go into any tournament because it's so big - it's the biggest sporting event in the world - so it's hard not to get caught up in the emotions and everything, so I just try and stay clear of that."

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