England manager confident of improved showing against Colombia

Gareth Southgate has no regrets about resting most of the first team during defeat against Belgium

England manager confident of improved showing against Colombia

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June 29th, 2018

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England are into the World Cup last sixteen and their reward for finishing second in Group G is a clash against Colombia.

Gareth Southgate decided to rest several key players for the dead rubber against Belgium, with the manager insisting that there will be improvement for Tuesday’s clash.

“We know our squad inside out, where they are, the different strengths they have and problems they pose the opposition,” said Southgate.

“We know the areas we need to improve. We’re very clear about where we are as a team, and we’ll continue to work to get better. I know this meant the game against Belgium was a little bit flat, but every player in that dressing room knows why we’ve done what we’ve done.

“We are through to the next phase. We had to do what we believed was the right thing. OK, we didn’t win the game, but there was a myriad of other things involved in the decision. In terms of the changes in the team, they had a game four days ago in extreme heat [in Nizhny Novgorod]. We could have played them again on Thursday but, earlier in the day, you already saw Colombia lose a key player [James Rodríguez], Japan lose a key player and, had Senegal gone through, they would have lost a key player too.

“Those were risks we didn’t need to take. I understand why people question those decisions, but we have to prepare the team in the way we feel right. Now, rather than having players not on the training ground because they’re recovering, we’ll have a gym session on Friday and players ready to start training for Colombia the next day.”

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