April 26, 2018

Paul Merson picks his 23-man England squad for 2018 World Cup

08 October 2017, 12:38 | Lorenzo Hawkins

Hart celebrates during the 2-1 win over Slovakia which saw England come from a goal down

Hart celebrates during the 2-1 win over Slovakia which saw England come from a goal down

There's simply no greater honour in the professional game than captaining your country, and Kane certainly understands the magnitude of the responsibility he finds on his shoulders on the eve of England's first tie with Slovenia at Wembley. "I've managed to shoulder that for 20 years", he said.

"Tonight highlighted where we are", said Southgate, with the England manager conceding it was "blindingly obvious we could have played better". Marcus Rashford, England's brightest player against Slovenia, would struggle to find a place, but ultimately he doesn't look entirely comfortable out wide and probably will be a backup to Kane regardless of the system.

"I think he's a natural successor to Lloris when the Frenchman is absent or injured". Regardless of personal achievements, I think it's important that we smile.

England's 1-0 win at home and Germany's 3-1 triumph in Belfast were enough to guarantee they will finish atop their respective qualifying groups, earning automatic advancement to next summer's tournament. We know what we want to achieve as a team, so for me it's just about doing my job.

The brutal truth is England are a third-tier football nation, and to that end they should be congratulated on qualifying for the World Cup. The Three Lions will then play Lithuania on October 8.

"We are a country that has high expectations and you have to keep delivering", Southgate said.

"Are we are going to become Spain in the next eight months?" For instance, Sergio Romero and Antonio Valencia starred on the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers on Friday early morning.

"We want him to be in fantastic form but we want everyone to contribute".

England offered little attacking threat on a dreary and subdued night at Wembley Stadium that was lit up only in the fourth minute of additional time when Kane latched onto Kyle Walker's cross and struck under goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

"We should enjoy this".

The partnerships in defence and midfield have not allowed English fans to say with any degree of certainty that their side have the nucleus of a decent team. You can't boil Spain's 2010 World Cup victory and Germany's 2014 triumph down to a single factor, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that both depended upon the core of a cohesive, intelligent club side (Barcelona and Bayern Munich, respectively).

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