Southgate warns England against complacency ahead of Senegal clash

No let-up now! Gareth Southgate sends out complacency warning to England ahead of knockout clash with Senegal… as Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka are lined up as penalty takers if last-16 clash goes all the way

  • Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane led an meeting urging England to be focused
  • England take on Senegal on Sunday in the first knockout round of the World Cup 
  • Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford could be chosen as penalty takers on Sunday
  • John Stones claims Kane is as good as Manchester City star Erling Haaland 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

England players have been warned that complacency will threaten their World Cup dream during a passionate team meeting led by Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane.

Ahead of Sunday’s last-16 clash with Senegal, it can also be revealed that Southgate is ready to select Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka as penalty takers should England need a shootout. 

Both were racially abused after missing spot-kicks in last year’s Euros final loss to Italy.

Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane urged England to stay focused ahead of Senegal clash

Southgate led a passionate meeting in their Qatar camp as he issued a rallying cry to his stars

England will train for the final time on Saturday afternoon as they aim to reach their third successive quarter-final. On Friday morning, the squad held an energy-charged meeting where boss Southgate, captain Kane and other senior players spoke emotionally about not allowing standards to slip. 

Several big nations have already been eliminated in Qatar, with Germany, Uruguay and Belgium among those going home. 

And Southgate is understood to have stressed to his players the importance of believing in their own quality, but also warned that they will have to find a higher level of performance to combat Senegal’s intensity and physicality.

Southgate is ready to select Bukayo Saka (L) and Marcus Rashford to take penalties on Sunday

England head into the clash as firm favourites, but key players and coaching staff have reinforced the pitfalls of taking their eye off the ball.

Defender John Stones said: ‘Whether it’s putting your kit the right way for the kitmen, we get on each other for things like that because we have created those standards.

‘Not being late to meetings. All those, if you start getting sloppy with little things, the bigger things start to get sloppy very easily.

John Stones admitted that the Three Lions squad hold themselves to very high standards

‘Those little things matter and keep you on the right path. All the good traits we have, we can’t let those slide.’

As England enter the knockout stages, the prospect of a tense penalty shootout now looms.

Following years of spot-kick disappointment, they have won two of their last three under Southgate, who prepares for shootouts meticulously. Rashford and Saka are in line to be takers as they have been among the most impressive in training.

Kane is yet to get off the mark at the tournament, but there is a feeling within the camp that it is only a matter of time before he opens his account.

Harry Kane is still yet to get off the mark at the tournament but the feeling is that it is coming

Asked whether Kane was as good as Stones’s Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland, the centre back replied: ‘Definitely. Erling is new to our league and Harry has been playing it all his life.

John Stones claimed Kane is as good as his Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland

‘They’re both incredible players. Harry has always been incredible for me, incredible to play with, and I’m sure he’ll get on the scoresheet soon.’

Southgate is facing a selection dilemma over who supports Kane in attack. Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka were rotated for the 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday, Rashford and Phil Foden coming in. Rashford scored twice, while Foden also netted and won the free-kick that led to Rashford giving England the lead.

It remains to be seen whether Southgate selects the same forward line given Sterling’s big-game experience. Jordan Henderson could keep his spot after replacing Mason Mount against Wales.

Meanwhile, Ivan Barton, a 31-year-old University of El Salvador professor in organic chemistry will referee Sunday’s match. He will be joined on the line by American assistant, Kathryn Nesbitt, who is also an analytical chemist and one of the few female officials here.

Ivan Barton is a University professor in organic chemistry and takes charge of Sunday’s clash

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