Five reasons to be optimistic about England
When Denmark’s Christian Eriksen turned to Tottenham team-mate and England full-back Kieran Trippier after the final game of the season and said, “Good luck at the World Cup, see you in the semis,” he could have been accused of being a touch optimistic.
Reaching the last four in Russia seems a stretch for Gareth Southgate’s young squad, who average fewer than 20 caps per player and lack the star status of the fabled ‘golden generation’, which included Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
This time, England’s midfield might comprise Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier.
But while the players may lack experience and pedigree, it is also a squad which represents a new-look England, with added hope for the future.
Shorn of scars from previous tournaments, with a clear philosophy of how to play and with little expectation, Southgate has backed his players, saying he wants them to be “fearless”.