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Southgate: England ‘has to get used to’ being favorites

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Gareth Southgate has officially taken the training wheels off of his England national team after the Three Lions were drawn into what has widely been dubbed an easy group for 2020 European Championship qualification.

[ MERSEYSIDE: Insane late goal gifts Liverpool derby win over Everton ]

Drawn alongside the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo, Southgate acknowledges the fact that England will be expected to win the group. In his mind, accepting and learning to deal with the tag of “favorites” will be an important next step in their progression toward winning a major tournament — quotes from the Guardian:

“We’re favorites, and that’s something we’ve got to start getting used to anyway. We’re going to have high expectations over the next few years, and adapting to that is probably key to our development as a team now.

“We should win the group. But if you don’t play well on any given day, you drop points and that is the reality of dealing with those sorts of matches. Nobody’s going to expect me to stand there and say it’s done already and we should just prepare for 18 months’ time.

“I think that’s where the competition for places is really important, because if our players think there’s comfort from the fixtures, then there isn’t comfort for a position in the team or in the squad. And that means that the motivation for training every day, which is what you take into your games, is really high.”

Southgate: ‘Hungry’ Harry Kane ‘best goalscorer in the world’

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There’s no better goalscorer in the world than Harry Kane, according to England boss Gareth Southgate.

[ MORE: UEFA Nations League: England reach finals; Belgium capitulate ]

Whether or not he’s bagging a goal every game, every other game or once every eight games — as was the case coming into Sunday’s pivotal UEFA Nations League finale against Croatia — Southgate backs a “hungry” Kane over any other forward in the world. It’s not just the goals that Kane scores, but his all-around game that allows him to impact the Three Lions in so many different ways — quotes from the Guardian:

“Harry is the best goalscorer in the world. You’re always loth to take a player off of his ability. I know people have questioned some of those decisions over the summer but he’s our main penalty-taker, our leader. In 98% of the games, his hold-up play and goalscoring is critical. He played a fantastic pass for Raheem Sterling after dropping off deep and turning in the first half. We have huge belief in him. He is so hungry to lead the team on.”

Never mind the fact that England don’t have another forward with a comparable set of skills which would allow them to play in a similar way, should Kane be dropped from the lineup for a meaningful game.

[ MORE: Lingard: Making it to Nations League finals is “what we want” ]

Kane only turned 25 this summer, and has already amassed 20 international goals in just 35 appearances (in four years since making his England debut). If he remains the first-choice no. 9 until he’s 30 — let alone a year or two beyond that — he’ll get dangerously close to breaking Wayne Rooney‘s record of 53 England goals and going down as the best the Three Lions have ever had. Prior to his recent goal-less skid, which would have reached a full eight games had he not grabbed the late winner on Sunday, those numbers stood at 19 goals in 27 appearances — clearly an unsustainable, but otherworldly goal-scoring pace.

Kane’s rise to prominence — and ultimately, superstardom — came so abruptly and unexpectedly that so many fans and pundits appear to be still waiting for the other shoe to drop on the impostor who could never actually be as good as everyone else thinks he is. After five full years of prolific goal-scoring for club and country, it’s probably time we start giving Kane a bit more benefit of the doubt.

Report: Jadon Sancho to start for England vs United States

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Jadon Sancho and Christian Pulisic are teenage teammates for Borussia Dortmund, a shining light for the growing generation of young internationals. Now, they will face each other on the field as international opponents on Friday as the United States and England clash at Wembley.

According to a report by Sky Sports, Sancho is set for his full international debut as Gareth Southgate will include Sancho in his starting lineup. It will be Sancho’s second cap after earning his first against Croatia in October.

That means it’s likely that the two will both be included from the opening whistle, as Pulisic is as guaranteed a starter as they come on the United States, barring injury.

Sancho has been white hot at the club level this season, scoring four goals and assisting five while earning a starting role with his form. One of his main teammates affected with diminished minutes as a result of Sancho’s form is Pulisic, who has not started in any of the last five Bundesliga matches and has just 64 minutes in that span.

Pulisic started against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on October 24, and eventually saw Sancho replace him in the 79th minute, with the young English international scoring in the 4-0 win. The two then started opposite each other against Atletico in the reverse fixture a week ago in a 2-0 loss.

Sancho will get the opportunity to prove his worth with a critical match against Croatia is on the horizon, as England has the chance to secure a spot in the Nations League semi-finals with a win. This will come alongside Wayne Rooney, who will be included in the squad and get the opportunity to play in a farewell match. Sancho was just two years old when Rooney made his England debut.

England announces roster for USMNT, Croatia matches

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Gareth Southgate has named his 28-man roster for next week’s friendly against the United States and pivotal UEFA Nations League match with Croatia.

Dave Sarachan’s USMNT announced its roster on Tuesday.

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Wayne Rooney is back with England for one final cap, while Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund is the only other player on the roster not based in England.

The Three Lions seem likely to deploy their second-choice players for the match against the USMNT on Thursday, Nov. 15.

England roster in full

Goalkeepers: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Spurs), Kyle Walker (Man City)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Spurs), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Man City), Eric Dier (Spurs), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Harry Winks (Spurs)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Spurs), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (DC United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Southgate: “Rooney has earned the right” to final cap, tribute

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If anyone has “earned the right” to one final call-up to the England national team, it’s Wayne Rooney, according to current England boss Gareth Southgate.

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Speaking in a press conference after naming his 28-man squad for next week’s friendly against the U.S. men’s national team and UEFA Nations League clash with Croatia, Southgate seemed annoyed that he found himself “justifying” the decision to celebrate England’s all-time leading goalscorer (53) and most-capped outfield player (119) with an official send-off, against the Americans next Thursday.

“We are a strange country as in that we bemoan the fact we haven’t achieved as much as we like,” Southgate said. “We have a player who should be held in the highest regard yet we spend a lot of time justifying that tribute. I am looking forward to seeing and working with him in the next few days.”

“If somebody is going to earn that cap it is someone who has got 119 more than someone who has one. I think he’s earned the right to that cap over a period of over 10 years, six major tournaments and being our record goalscorer.

“It is an opportunity to pay tribute to what he has achieved.”

“I understand it’s caused a lot of debate and conjecture, but it’s a way of appreciating what he’s given.”

“We went to Germany and they honored Podolski (in March 2017) He started the game and we were all struck by the fact that it was a good way to recognize someone who’s had a fantastic career for his country. We’ve not been brilliant at that over the years.”