No, after you: Why England and Belgium may want to be second

No, after you: Why England and Belgium may want to be second

A countdown clock towards Qatar at the National Football Centre at St George's Park has since been quietly mothballed, but there are reasons for optimism and belief within the English set-up that something good could be about to happen, with Southgate speaking of the great potential within his pool of eligible players when he announced his World Cup squad last month. Some of them, I don't think they know how good they might be.

Harry Kane could conceivably end the day as England's all-time top goalscorer at a single World Cup. "So, why we are starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me really".

Southgate knows how much that will mean to the defence-minded player, having headed to two World Cups as a squad member himself but only played at the 1998 tournament.

Both Gareth Southgate's side and Belgium have secured a place in the last 16, with the only matter to be decided in Kaliningrad which team wins the group.

Ever since England beat Panama to seal qualification for the knockout stages he has faced questions about whether it would be better to finish as Group G runners-up, the logic being that it would mean avoiding Germany or Brazil in the quarter-finals.

'He has shown his value to us already both before the tournament and now during the tournament.

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"It's like a test for us, if you can keep a player like Harry Kane form scoring then you're keeping your focus and doing your defensive work well", he said. We were watching Argentina last night, Portugal and Spain the evening before, and one decision at one end of the pitch, and a decision within two minutes. the situation in the group changed completely.

"We have no idea who, when or where we will play", he said.

Speaking in his prematch news conference on Wednesday, Martinez said the results from the scans had been positive for the long term, but fears Belgium's all-time top goalscorer may have to sit out the England encounter. "We're just pleased we're in the next round".

The two sides have qualified from Group G with a game to spare, and both Roberto Martinez and Southgate indicated they could rotate heavily in order to protect players carrying injuries or at risk of suspension.

"I am trying to develop a winning mentality".