Southgate: "England still have a step to take to beat best"

Tue 25 January 2022 | 15:06

Gareth Southgate says he is concentrating on the "small details" that will aid England's odds in Qatar's FIFA World Cup later this year.

The Three Lions have been the almost men in the previous four years, having reached the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and lost the Euro 2020 final last summer. 

Southgate is well aware that his team is on the verge of overcoming a 56-year title drought, and he plans to take advantage of the time before the winter championship to get it all in order. 

"It's firstly a brilliant challenge for us," he told

 Sky Sports

. "The team have got to a certain level and there is a lot more expectation and evidence that they can do well.

"We're focusing on the small details that can take us from a team that are really competitive to a team that can win.

"We know we've still got a step to take to beat the best of the rest consistently. You're balancing that with (the fact that) we're still 10 months away (from Qatar) and form and fitness can fluctuate a lot over that period.

"There are things we want to get right in March and in the summer which are important building blocks and we need to pace ourselves over the year to peak at the end of the season."

The Three Lions' big-game experience from the last two competitions will serve them well, and their players are receiving regular exposure to big-game situations at their clubs. Experience, according to Southgate, could be a key element.

"The team are improving, gaining more experience as a collective and individually. Form in the league is important and form in the big matches, even more important," he added.

"(Big matches) are about performing under the most extreme pressure and intensity and you learn more about the players in cup semi-finals and final matches with their club. Have people got the resilience to stand up in an England shirt and thrive on those big nights?"




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