Gareth Southgate has told England’s players to play without fear and grab their chance against Belgium as they may only get one shot at the World Cup.
With progress to the last-16 already assured, both sides are planning changes for this evening’s Kaliningrad encounter despite the match deciding the winner of Group G.
Southgate dismissed talk that finishing as runners-up could be favourable, with the England manager looking to strike a balance between keeping key men fresh and squad players happy.
“I remember Chris Coleman after the Europeans (with Wales) talking about (how) you have got to go for things in life and don’t be afraid to fail,” said Coleman.
The fact only five survivors remain from the 2014 edition in Brazil only underlines Southgate’s point. The England boss kept his cards close to his chest, only confirming that Eric Dier would make his first World Cup start.
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.
“My inherent nature is that I like people to feel included and to be part of what we’re doing, and they all are,” Southgate said, having watched from the bench in 2002.
“But of course as a player you don’t really feel that until you’re able to play and contribute.”
Southgate wants to see another high level of performance today, when Dele Alli could return to the side after missing out against Panama with a thigh strain.
Meanwhile, Dier has warned England’s World Cup rivals the best is yet to come from Harry Kane. Kane is gunning for the Golden Boot in Russia after scoring five times in the first two games.
“It’s been a fantastic tournament for him so far. I believe he has an even better level as well,” said Dier.
“He continues to improve and wants to improve and he shows a fantastic work ethnic and attitude. He is extremely driven. Everyone wants to play every minute of every game. Harry is no different.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved