Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

International Friendly Report: England v Costa Rica 07 June 2018

International Friendly Report: England v Costa Rica 07 June 2018

"So, if I look at the three weeks we've had, I couldn't be happier with the preparation: physically, tactically and in the togetherness of the group".

The win, which puts England two points clear of Wales with two games left, came without injured captain Steph Houghton and the influential Izzy Christiansen and Jordan Nobbs.

Southgate has provided a fresh outlook, with England's players encouraged to mix with the press and speak openly about their hopes and fears.

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Danny Rose and debutant Trent Alexander-Arnold shone in the wing-back roles, utility man Fabian Delph was a tireless presence in midfield and, while starved of saves to make, Jack Butland was a composed presence in goal. To keep striving and keeping wanting more, to keep improving. "Not great. I don't think the expectations should be very high".

In England's last match before their tournament opener against Tunisia in 11 days' time, Manchester United's Rashford was the star of a much-changed side.

"I don't think the players would want that because they have worked all their lives to play at a World Cup". He has encouraged the squad to tell their backstories to each other to improve cohesion on the pitch but also to improve the public image of the team. "He is still filling out - we sometimes forget how old he is", Southgate said. "As a team, we are hugely supportive of what he's done. If you look at the adversity they've faced, it's brought them closer".

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In the first quarter, three players made three-pointers in a span of 43 seconds. "Self-inflicted, post-game after game one". I want to see Quinn Cook come back a better player. "And nobody has left here and become as big as LeBron".

Do you think he deserves a place in the starting XI after bagging against Costa Rica earlier this week? "You have got to take that into the World Cup - be courageous and be confident in the World Cup".

Sterling moved to North London at the age of five with his mother, and his abundant talent on the football field soon became recognised as he was snapped up by Queen's Park Rangers and then Liverpool as a 15-year-old. He has discussed with his players comments made by Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard about bitter inter-club rivalries destroying the spirit within England camps at previous tournaments. "The past can help us and inform us but it shouldn't shape us and we've got to be our own team".

"From a defensive point of view, we are not good enough to compete with the very best teams at global level, so we need to play that extra defensive player in midfield".

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"They've made a conscious effort to get the fans on their side, there's harmony", he said.

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