England can reap the dividends of Mauricio Pochettino’s work with a number of their key performers at Tottenham, according to national team boss Gareth Southgate.
The Three Lions need one win from their remaining qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania next week to make absolutely sure of a place at the 2018 World Cup.
Free-scoring Spurs striker Harry Kane, along with club-mates Dele Alli and Eric Dier, will have a key influence over how England fair in Russia and all three players have made giant strides under Pochettino.
Southgate credited the former Southampton coach and his backroom staff, headed by assistant Jesus Perez, for whipping the trio into phenomenal shape.
“The biggest change [for Kane] has been physical,” said Southgate, who took charge of a striker hindered by fitness issues during his time as England Under-21 boss.
13 – Harry Kane now has 13 goals for club & country in September 2017; his best ever goal tally in a single month of his career. Unstoppable pic.twitter.com/Bt0mrkDJjP
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 30, 2017
“Since Mauricio has been there the conditioning work they do has improved the team and Harry has benefited from that.
“He looks strong, lean, a little bit quicker and sharper. The biggest change has been physical, and then that has an effect on your mentality.
“If you know you’re in good physical condition then mentally you’re in a better place.
“It was the same at Southampton. I know Jesus, Mauricio’s assistant, is in charge of that area of their training, and we noticed a definite difference that allowed them to play the pressing game they want to play.
“There was a definite impact on all the Spurs players from their club training.”
Southgate is relaxed over the England players spending time with their partners and families at the team hotel during the World Cup – something that has become an unlikely hot-button issue within the British tabloid press over recent tournaments.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a tournament where the whole family has been in with us the whole time, but I will encourage the families to come and the lads to see them the day after a game,” he added.
“We want that environment where the players are relaxed, otherwise it becomes a bubble where there’s nothing else in your life and the small things become bigger than they should be.”
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