Monday, October 23, 2017

Bertrand refuses to lose focus as England close in on qualification

SoccerNews in World Cup 2 Oct 2017

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Ryan Bertrand insists England cannot afford to relax in their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The Three Lions sit five points clear in Group F with two games to go in their campaign, starting with Thursday’s clash with third-placed Slovenia at Wembley.

Yet despite being in such a healthy position in the table, left-back Bertrand believes Gareth Southgate’s squad cannot lose focus when their target is now within touching distance.

England – who are unbeaten in eight qualifying games having conceded just three goals – complete their fixtures with a trip to Lithuania on October 8.

“It’s not over and we are very much in a positive mindset,” Bertrand told reporters. “Work is not finished. We want to get the six points. 

“All games internationally are tough. They [Slovenia] perhaps have added incentive, but we still need points as well so it should be a good game.

“For me personally, with my fan’s head on as well, it would be nice to complete the qualification in front of our home fans.”

Southgate will be without he suspended Dele Alli for the Slovenia game – he was handed a one-match ban by FIFA after being caught on camera making a one-fingered salute during the win over Slovakia in September.

However, Bertrand believes England have enough quality in the squad to cover for the absence of Tottenham’s goalscoring midfielder. 

“Dele is a fantastic player, he would definitely be one on the team sheet that the opposition highlights and wants to lockdown, so that will be a miss,” he said.

“But as a nation we are blessed with amazing talent and I’m sure whoever comes in in place of him will do an amazing job.”

Bertrand was speaking after England’s players listened to a speech from 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton, who had a training pitch named after him at St George’s Park in a tribute to coincide with his upcoming 80th birthday.

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