England manager Gareth Southgate called on his players to shut down the noise ahead of this month’s World Cup and focus on the opportunity to become the greatest team in the country’s history with a win in Qatar.
Southgate’s team reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of last year’s European Championships, but England have failed to win a major trophy since lifting the World Cup on home soil in 1966.
England will begin their group campaign against Iran on 21 November and will also face the United States and Wales in Group B.
“Along with the players, we want to talk to them about the excitement of going to the World Cup,” Southgate said.
“We understand the need to comment on things off-field around this tournament, but we want the players to feel the excitement that they have since they were kids. We want to fuel it.
“We want them to think about England from the busy club schedule. We want to talk to him about the fact that whatever happens in the next four weeks, it has been the second best round for English football. We can make the best of it.”
The World Cup will give England players a chance to prove themselves in international football, including Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, who seeks success on football’s biggest stage.
Southgate has praised the 19-year-old midfielder, saying he is showing maturity beyond his years.
“He matures in the way he acts, how he trains, how he speaks,” Southgate said. “He competes — that’s probably what we love about him more than anything else.
“There is a line in it sometimes and there will undoubtedly be moments, when he is young, that it will be crossed. But he is a very exciting player and he is the one we have had a good experience with in the beginning.”
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