Shropshire Star

Gareth Southgate urges England to think big ahead of USA game

Captain Harry Kane has shaken off an ankle knock to be fit for the clash at the Al Bayt Stadium.

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England manager Gareth Southgate during a training session

Gareth Southgate has challenged England to keep thinking big as they look to secure a place in the last 16 of the World Cup with victory over the United States.

England captain Harry Kane has shaken off an ankle problem to be fit for Friday’s clash at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Victory would ensure qualification for the knockout stage and would seal progression as winners of Group B should Iran and Wales draw earlier on Friday.

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate feels England are putting themselves back on the footballing map (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Southgate is looking to go one better than at last summer’s Euros, where England lost the final on penalties to Italy, which followed three years on from reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The England manager believes such progression shows his players are putting the nation firmly back on the footballing map.

“We feel that we can be competitive for years to come and that has to be the aim really, to have a sustained challenge in the latter stages on the big competitions, we haven’t done that for years and years,” Southgate said.

“These players are putting our country on the map really. They are regaining our respectability on the world stage and we have got to keep doing that.”

Having Kane available could be crucial for England, who coasted to a 6-2 win over Iran to start their tournament in impressive style.

Tottenham forward Kane underwent a scan on his foot after a heavy challenge during England’s opening World Cup win over Iran on Monday.

Kane played on for 25 minutes before being replaced by Callum Wilson, but then had precautionary scans after leaving the stadium with light bandaging on his foot.

Harry Kane
Harry Kane hurt his ankle against Iran (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Tottenham striker trained at England’s Al Wakrah training base on both Wednesday and Thursday and Southgate revealed he is fit to start against the Americans.

Asked if Kane would be in the team, Southgate replied: “Harry’s good.

“He came through training no problems so yes, it would be a brave decision to leave him out of the starting team.”

Despite the positive mindset after coasting past Iran, England will be all too aware they have faced the USA twice in previous tournaments and are still without a win.

Wales’ Gareth Bale (left) and USA’s Brenden Aaronson battle for the ball
The USA drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening game (Mike Egerton/PA)

Defeat in 1950 still ranks as arguably the biggest World Cup upset of all time and the two countries also played out a 1-1 draw in their opening game of 2010 in Rustenburg.

Southgate wants his players to make history by changing that record and claimed England often speak about their achievements without any real results to back it up.

“Have we ever beaten the States in a major tournament? No, I didn’t think so,” he said.

“We have to try and make history, number one. We are good at that, we are good at talking highly of ourselves as a nation on the basis of very little evidence.

“So what we’ve got to do is perform on the field and we know that we’ll play a highly motivated team but we’ve got huge respect for our opponent.”

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