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Gareth Southgate: I was lucky to get second chance to manage England

28 June 2018

It nearly seems to have been forgotten that before England should start thinking about the quarter-finals they will have a tie in either Moscow or Rostov against one of the teams from Group H. They will have a clearer idea by the time they kick off against Belgium but, as Southgate spoke, it could be one of Japan, Senegal or Colombia. "We play against them near enough every week". "They've been ahead for about a minute and a half, in total, of their three matches and it's unusual to see them struggle as much as they have".

Southgate was asked outright if Kane would start the game and replied: 'As a manager you have to think of the whole squad and then your second thought is for individuals and their own situations, and that is a really complex balance in any business where you are managing people.

"It's very important for us to protect and give every player the best possible programme to be in the best condition for the knockout games".

With that in mind, Martinez said he was unlikely to field any players who have a yellow card in case they picked up another and are disqualified from the round of 16.

The debate in the run-up to the Belgium clash has centred around whether winning to secure top spot in the group would be beneficial, with avoiding a potential quarter-final against defending champions Germany the focus of media attention.

If England go on to win that last-16 game, be it against Senegal, Japan or Colombia, they will face the victor the last-16 tie between Group E winners Brazil and Group F runners-up Mexico in the quarter-finals.

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The message was clear before a game between two sides who have already qualified with victories from their opening fixtures and have identical goal difference.

"Equally, he is the captain and he knows he will be judged on how far we go as a team".

However, Lukaku is one goal behind England's Harry Kane in this World Cup, as the strikers compete for the Golden Boot.

Both sides are assured of qualification for the knockout stages already but there is some debate over whether it is beneficial to finish in first or second.

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

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said Lukaku has had a scan which showed good results, but the England game is "one day too early for him". "It just wouldn't be authentic for what we've been trying to build for the last two years".

Gareth Southgate: I was lucky to get second chance to manage England