Gareth Southgate believes the experience of players in the Premier League’s ‘big six’ will only benefit his England squad heading into the World Cup.
Eighteen of Southgate’s squad play for clubs who finished in the top six last term, with Leicester City duo Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire the only outfield players to not to do so, although Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek spent 2017-18 on loan at Crystal Palace.
And Southgate insists that the mentality of the top-six teams is a huge boost to England’s chances of progressing in the tournament.
“I think it’s big,” he said, shrugging off suggestions that his squad is raw and inexperienced.
“We are seeing that with Manchester City having a core of four English players most weeks, United having a core of English players, Liverpool the same.
“Look at the experience Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] have gained in the Champions League.
“It was the same for the Tottenham and City boys. They have been in big-match environments where they know what it takes – the commitment and mindset and hurdles to be overcome.
“They are working with top European coaches. There was always an assumption that European coaches will come here and pick foreign players.
“Pochettino has gone with an English core – that is a great message for our players. They can feed off of that, and the players they work with.”
Much of England’s hopes heading into the World Cup hinge on the form and fitness of Harry Kane, but Southgate claimed the squad has an abundance of young talent that can prove itself on the biggest stage in Russia, singling out Dele Alli as a likely candidate.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 16 May 2018
“You perform in a World Cup and that announces you to the world,” Southgate added.
“You have the chance to make history in games that really matter and that people will remember forever.
“When you look at the number of goals and assists this year, [Alli] is right up there. He is still only 22 years old, it’s nothing, and I think his numbers are ahead of where Steven Gerrard and other people were at his age.
“He is a player that should, and I am sure will, have a big impact for us this summer. He smells opportunity.”
England take on Nigeria and Costa Rica in friendlies before kicking-off their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on 18 June in Volgograd.
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