Match 64
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Match 63
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Match 63
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 By PA Sport

Marcus Rashford: England will be well-prepared for 2018 World Cup

Marcus Rashford will be among the millions watching Friday's draw for a World Cup the forward believes Gareth Southgate's England will be well-equipped to compete in.

The eyes of the footballing world will be trained on Moscow as 32 nations find out their fate as months of talk comes to a head with the formation of eight keenly-contested groups.

Southgate's second seeds are hoping for a kind draw for Russia and Rashford will be tuned in the draw see what obstacles lie in wait for England next summer.

"Yeah, 100 percent I'll be watching it," the forward told Press Association Sport. "Before you know it, it'll be right around the corner.

"The Premier League season is difficult but we have to make sure that each individual is playing at our best to get in the team first for all.

"You've got to be playing well for your club, and then you've got to come together and try and peak for the tournament, which is probably the most difficult thing because after a long season it's another level of just your body physically. Sometimes it's hard for it to cope.''

Rashford's other major tournament experience came at Euro 2016 after being rushed into Roy Hodgson's squad after a blazing start to life at Manchester United.

Such trust in youth continues under Southgate's watch, having recently accelerated the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham and Joe Gomez's progress to the senior set-up.

The trio made their debut in this month's 0-0 draw with World Cup holders Germany and got another chance days later against five-time winners Brazil -- the kind of experiences that Rashford believes can only benefit the callow Three Lions.

"That's something just to [take] experience from, which you have to against the top teams in the world,'' the 20-year-old said. "Take the experience, learn from it -- which is the biggest thing -- and then you move on so next time we play against them we're more equipped to try and win the game.

"I think those two games that we've had are against world-class opposition and us playing against them only has a positive effect."

Marcus Rashford and England could face a difficult draw at the World Cup.

Preparations continue against more big-name opposition in March, albeit their talented and dysfunctional opponents Netherlands and Italy failed to make the World Cup.

They offer more opportunities to stabilise the foundations and build towards an exciting future, with Rashford determined to make the most out of an international career that has already seen him rack up 15 caps aged 20.

"It goes so fast," he said. "I think for England sometimes you do miss the moments. When we're not always successful, you miss the moments of enjoying playing that game and being proud to play that game because you get caught up in wanting to win and wanting to please everyone.

"I think sometimes we have to sit back and relax and I think definitely over them two last games because we've understood that the opposition are in a better position than us at the moment, they're ranked higher than us, and they are recognised two of the top teams in the world, we have sat back and respected them.

"And, for me, because we've done that and given ourselves time to think, you definitely get that feeling of proud playing for your national team. I think that can take you through games sometimes, so it is a big, big difference."

Meanwhile, former England manager Roy Hodgson believes the Three Lions should fear no-one in Friday's draw, with hosts Russia, holders Germany or one Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France as potential opponents.

Hodgson saw his England side drawn into a difficult group in 2014 as they came up against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica -- crashing out after the opening two games.

The 70-year-old, back in club management at Crystal Palace, left his role with the Three Lions after a shock defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016. But Hodgson believes current boss Southgate and his players should not concern themselves with who comes out of the hat and has backed England to do well in Russia.

"I don't think Southgate or England will be bothered about that, they will have confidence about how the team is improving," he said when asked about the possibility of a tough draw. "They do not need to fear any of those scenarios or ideal groups. I would summarise my feelings that I am confident that no matter what group England find themselves in, it really won't matter.

"What will matter is that the players Southgate picks will be good enough to win against [any] of them and I don't think England will fear anyone. I don't think it matters what draw England get, what matters is they will go there with a good team that I believe is capable of doing extremely well.

"It certainly doesn't go on FIFA rankings as there are a lot from the top 10 I would rather meet than 25 down."


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