Southgate not anxious by Russian heat, Panama play down line-up gaffe

Sunday, 24 Jun, 2018

An opening 2-1 win over Tunisia in Group G got the Three Lions off to the flawless start in Russian Federation with City trio Kyle Walker, John Stones and Raheem Sterling all being part of the starting eleven.

Preparations for that match have been overshadowed by speculation about the line-up after assistant Holland was pictured on Thursday holding a note that appeared to outline England's plans for Nizhny Novgorod. England will be the first to tell you that that can not be an excuse for a failure to win, though. "Against Colombia. we will play differently and better". The 4-5-1 may be adapted into a 5-4-1 in defensive situations, or if they are really up against it then they may stick 10 men behind the ball and use their lone striker as an outlet on the counter.

"There's no drama for me about it".

"My only observation is that it's definitely an advantage for us or the opposition if you know the tactics of the other team. We've got technically good players, we want them to get on the ball and express themselves and really attack the game like we did the other night [against Tunisia]".

A backlash from some supporters on social media added to the furore, threatening to undermine an increasingly positive relationship between the England squad and reporters, which has even seen darts competitions take place at the team base in Repino.

Panama will know they cannot go head to head with England in terms of quality, but they will quite happily make the game a dog fight. I'm relaxed, the team came out three days before the first game and I didn't say anything because it's something we can't control.

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"I feel this time around in this tournament, especially leading up to the tournament, the media has been great".

"We need to be fortunate, have a good day, and get off on the right foot for our players to shine", Gomez said.

"But it's still a work in progress". We're all living in a slightly false thing...like when you go on holiday with your family. "More than anything I think for the guys who aren't in the team tomorrow or who haven't been in the team for either game". We just knocked it on the head. The front sheet is always the runners and riders in training, and behind that all the changes we'll make in the session. We're all having a laugh and a joke and to be honest with you that is how it should be. The team also hopes to get more scoring opportunities from Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.

"I think it's huge", Southgate said.

"If that's on the pitch, coaching staff, fans or anything, we all want to do well and want England to get right to the later stages and all being (well) win it".