FIFA World Cup 2018: Young England not a finished article yet, says boss Gareth Southgate
After guiding Three Lions to semis, boss Southgate insists his side still lack world-class players; wants more performances from the youthful group
England manager Gareth Southgate said his side was not the finished article after qualifying for the country's first World Cup semi-final appearance since 1990 with a 2-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday.
Headed goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli in Samara, and a handful of key saves from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, sent England through to a last-four showdown with Croatia on July 11. Southgate believes there is much more to come from his youthful group of players. "We are a team who are still improving. We know where we are, we're having success because everybody is working so hard," Southgate said, after joining Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson as just the third manager to guide England to the World Cup semi-finals.
"We're not the finished article, we don't have renowned world-class players yet," he said. "We have lots of good young players who are showing on a world stage they're prepared to be brave with the ball. They try to play the right way and have shown some mental resilience now over the last few weeks. "We know in years to come they're going to be stronger."
Southgate felt the success of the nation's youth teams was a clear indicator of the talent coming through. He pleaded with Premier League clubs to show faith in youngsters, who often find their chances restricted by the vast number of foreign imports.
"We're in a World Cup semi-final. Whether we're in the top four in the world is something we would still have to prove I think, but we're progressing really well and we do have some good players and they need opportunities to play," Southgate said. "Hopefully, with what our junior teams have been doing at international level as well, it will be a sign to all clubs, whether in England or abroad, that English players can play."
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