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‘England’s only problems right now are good ones’

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The World Cup is just starting, but England are exactly where they want to be – comfortably into 16 and the only problem Gareth Southgate currently has are good ones.

We get everyone excited when we play like in the second half vs Wales. Let’s have a great performance that sets us up for Sunday and Senegal.

We often talk about the different sides having an identifiable identity. This was an excellent example of what I want England to have: we had lots of energy, a lot of press coverage, and were very visible.

While it won’t work for every game, we are a better team when we do.

Our forward positions were lively and our midfield was solid. The defence also did a great job – just like in our three Group B games.

We are confident in our team, which is a great thing to see.

I’m happy with the things I’ve seen and I’m excited for what lies ahead.

Foden and Rashford should be the first to face Senegal

It’s great for Southgate to have so many options on our frontline. Choosing who should play is a difficult decision.

There are many attacking talents in England.

Southgate brought in Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, for the Wales match. He was basically saying, “Over to you, we want to see what your can do”.

He was sure to be rewarded.

While there are still reasons for Raheem and Bukayo Saka not to play, Jack Grealish should too. However, I expect Foden, Rashford and Jack Grealish to start against Senegal Sunday. They certainly did enough.

Both Rashford’s goals are amazing and Foden was a great addition to the team. Many people, including me, yelled for him to play, and he did just that.

Southgate also received some major calls

I’m happy for Southgate’s decisions.

He is often criticised for making poor tactical or selection decisions or not using the right substitutes, but we must give him credit for his performance against Wales.

Foden and Rashford were brought in to the flanks by him. At half-time, he switched their positions and it made a huge difference. They looked happier and achieved our goals.

Southgate’s selection was not the only thing that worked. His tactics were also key.

Although we were mature and measured in the first half, we stepped up the pace after the break and received our reward. The game was over when we were up 1-0. It was only a matter of how many more we would score.

Goals are not a problem

This win wasn’t down to any one person; it was the result of the entire team.

Jude Bellingham’s energy in midfield was amazing. He has a lot of engine. He was always pushing us forward to achieve more goals and was always striving to get to the finish.

Our second goal was achieved by pressing Wales from the kick-off. The whole team worked together high up on the pitch to achieve this goal.

Harry Kane has yet to get a shot on goal at the World Cup. However, he has now had three assists and his cross for Foden was incredible – he placed the ball exactly where Foden would want it to.

Rashford’s third goal was the one that I loved the most. It happened at high speed, and it was beautiful to watch him move it onto his left foot and then put it away. It is too late by the time Rashford adjusts to his run.

These were all great goals and we have nine of the top scorers in this tournament. Other teams will wonder how they can keep us out, whether it’s open play or set pieces.

We don’t want to get too excited, but we have momentum now.

Although I doubt England would have been too affected by the draw with the United States, this performance was outstanding and we can move forward.

Senegal are still dangerous opponents, even without Sadio Mane. However, I feel confident that England can beat them and reach quarter-finals.

Alan Shearer spoke to Chris Bevan in Doha (Qatar).

 

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