2022 World Cup: England ‘regaining respectability’, says coach Gareth Southgate


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England boss Gareth Southgate said his side are “regaining our respectability on the world stage” as they aim to secure a World Cup place in the last 16.

The Three Lions will secure the top two spots in Group B if they beat the United States on Friday (19:00 GMT).

It would be England’s fourth consecutive appearance in the knockout stages of a major tournament since exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage.

“It’s a good period for English football,” Southgate said on Thursday.

“At the junior level, at the senior level, with our women’s team, a lot of positive things are happening.

“We feel we can be competitive for many years to come and that’s the goal: to be a sustained challenge in the latter stages of the big competitions and we haven’t done that in years and years.

“These players are putting the country on the map and restoring our respectability on the world stage – we must continue to do so.”

At the 2014 World Cup, England lost their first two matches and finished bottom of their group.

Since then they made the last 16 of Euro 2016 and then, under Southgate, reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and lost in the final of Euro 2020.

England beat Iran 6-2 on Monday but face a tougher task against a United States team ranked 16th in the world and who It started with a 1-1 draw against Wales.

“If we win we qualify and the first goal is to qualify from the group,” added Southgate. “We have three games for that and if we need all three we have to be ready for that.

“Have we ever beaten States in a major tournament? No, so we have to try to make history. We speak well of ourselves as an unproven nation, so we have to do well.

“We’re going to play a highly motivated team and have a lot of respect for our opponents. We know their players and their quality and athleticism, so we have to be at our best. I don’t think we’re going to underestimate the USA.”

Defender Harry Maguire and England manager Gareth Southgate spoke at a press conference on Thursday

Southgate was joined at Thursday’s press conference by defender Harry Maguire, who has come in for criticism of late but will earn his 50th international cap if he plays.

“I have a lot of faith in myself, I work as hard as I can, I give it my all and that gives you good preparation to perform at the best level,” said Maguire.

“As a footballer nobody likes to be criticized but it’s part of the game. I’ve played with Cristiano Ronaldo for the last two years and he’s one of the greatest kickers in football.

“They’re criticized every day, so if it’s going to happen to him, it’s going to happen to all of us. You have to work hard, do your best and that’s all you can do.”

There will be a strong Premier League contingent in the US, with Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner, Fulham duo Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream as well as Leeds’ Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams in the squad.

United States coach Gregg Berhalter said: “I think Gareth has done a great job. His record at major tournaments has been outstanding: fourth place in 2018, second place at the Euros.

“They made a great start and they are a formidable opponent. It will be difficult for us.”

GROUP NEWS

Leicester midfielder James Maddison has not trained this week, but captain Harry Kane is fit to play after picking up a minor ankle injury against Iran.

Maguire is also fit after feeling unwell in the second half on Sunday, while Kyle Walker could make his first appearance since groin surgery at the start of October.

The United States has not reported any injury concerns.

DATA OF THE MATCH

  • This is the third meeting between England and USA at the World Cup, with the USA winning 1-0 in 1950 before drawing 1-1 in 2010.
  • In all competitions, England have won eight of their 11 meetings with the USA (draw one, lose two). The last defeat against them was in June 1993 (0-2), winning four and drawing one of their matches since then.
  • After a 6-2 win over Iran, England are looking to win their first two games at the World Cup for the fourth time, including in 1982, 2006 and 2018.
  • England completed 716 passes in their 6-2 win over Iran, the most recorded in a World Cup match since 1966. John Stones was responsible for 116 (16%) of those completed passes, the most by an England player in the World. Cup match since 1966.