Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
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Too early to take positives for proud England boss Southgate

Too early to take positives for proud England boss Southgate

The disappointment of the country's 2-1 defeat to Croatia continues to be tempered by the belief among Gareth Southgate's squad that they made eye-catching progress at the tournament.

Kyle Walker delivered an upbeat appraisal of England's campaign in Russian Federation and proceeded to offer context by providing a comparison with previous tournaments in which he has been involved. It's always there every time we wear the shirt of our national team, we want to play with pride, we want to play well and win.

"But regardless of that, I think the football across the board has been really exciting, really entertaining, and the hosting of the tournament and the cities that have hosted it has been outstanding".

Customer Dean Lovett, who was checking in, said: "It's going to be really tight when I get there".

"But, certainly, I'm hugely proud of what they've done".

It was no surprise that Croatia cavorted on the pitch in celebration with fans and family long after beating England in the semi-finals of the World Cup on Wednesday night, but a wiser head might have ushered them quietly to ice bath and bed.

Kieran Trippier's early free-kick goal had England dreaming of their first World Cup final since 1966, only for Ivan Perisic to level and Mario Mandzukic to strike in extra-time.

"Did we expect to be in this position? The dressing room is a hard place at the moment". And that is a real feature of this generation of players.

England will have to put their World Cup heartache aside as they prepare for their third-place play-off game against Belgium on Saturday.

"We've proved to ourselves that is possible and we've proved to our country that is possible".

The fact remains, though, that on Sunday they will play the biggest match of their lives against a France side bursting with youth and vigour that has had a day more rest and played the equivalent of a match fewer over the knockout rounds. "He's given absolutely everything for the team", Southgate said.

"There was a period of the game in the second half where we didn't have that controlled possession, and the game became too end to end with us not building in the way we have been".

"Now is a time for us to be strong as a group and take the time to reflect on the performance a bit more over the next couple of days".

"Whether that had an effect on us not wanting to take as many chances as we had, subconsciously, I don't know".

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