Gareth Southgate has called for his men to grab their chance in tonight’s World Cup Group G decider with Belgium in Kaliningrad.
With a place in the last 16 already secured, the Three Lions boss is set to make a number of changes to the side who thumped Panama 6-1 during Sunday’s match.
Belgium are ranked third in the Fifa rankings, whilst England are ranked 12th and to date have never beaten a team ranked higher than them at a World Cup, since they beat third ranked Argentina in Sapporo in the 2002 World Cup.
And as Southgate and his squad flew into Kaliningrad on the eve of their match, they had every intent on becoming the first England side in 36 years to win all three World Cup group games.
However, if tonight the two teams were to draw, tied for points with goals for/against and goal difference, the group winner will be decided on fair play, whereupon yellow and red cards will be tallied up. If they are still tied after that, the winner will be determined by the drawing of lots.
As it stands Belgium have picked up one more yellow card than England, so would be second.
‘Every player, the 12 who aren’t playing, it’s only natural they want to play,’ he said.
‘We’re competitive and want to play in every game. That’s not possible in football.
‘We’ve all been around long enough to know that’s the case, and we have to respect that and keep pushing. That’s what the players have been doing.
‘The mentality of those who haven’t been in the starting XI has been to keep working as hard as possible, keep training and force an opportunity to play.
‘I think the intensity of the game will be good. The players who come in when you make changes have a high level of motivation. They have a brilliant opportunity to play in a World Cup and they want to show what they can do.’