'Dangerous' England can't overlook World Cup opponents - Southgate
Gareth Southgate has declared England will be a "dangerous" opponent at next summer's World Cup, but warned they must not fall into the trap of overlooking anyone in Russia.
England were humiliated in the last 16 of Euro 2016, where upstarts Iceland ended their tournament with a shocking 2-1 defeat in Nice.
Looking to make amends at next summer's World Cup, England, who are in Pot 2 along with 2010 winners Spain, will discover their group opponents during Friday's tournament draw. And the Three Lions' manager believes his side will present problems for whoever they're selected to play in Russia.
"Spain would have something to say about that," Southgate said, when asked if England were a Pot 2 side to avoid.
"Whilst we know who the teams are that we believe can go all the way and win the tournament, equally other teams will look at us and feel we are a team who are progressing. They know we are not as experienced as some of the other teams, but we will be a dangerous opponent for anybody."
Addressing last summer's loss to Iceland -- who will join England in Russia -- Southgate said thorough preparation and having respect for all opponents will be key to ensuring a repeat won't happen.
"It is very important we never underestimate our opponents," Southgate added. "Our preparation for matches no matter who we play against has to be very good, thoroughly detailed and prepared for scenarios where things don't go to plan.
"In a tournament for certain, each match you play there is a storyline to it and moments where you are under pressure and moments where you are on top in games and as a team we have to deal with all those moments in the right way.
"But I also think, I'm looking at a couple of the Icelandic players who play in our league, we are really guilty of underestimating the quality of other teams. Iceland have some really good players and they've shown that again in qualifying and in the group they've qualified from.
"We've got to make sure that we're guaranteed to beat any country in the world. None of these teams are a given."
If England do indeed make a deep run next summer, Harry Kane will likely be at the forefront. The Tottenham forward has been among the game's best players of late, and Southgate is convinced the World Cup will provide the stage for Kane prove he's one of the greats of generation.
"I'm certain that is Harry's ambition, and there's no question if that is his ambition, then this is the stage to go and show it," Southgate said.
"As a player you are judged a lot by what happens with your club, but in the end the world stars are ultimately judged by what they do with their country, and in major tournaments, this is the stage for all of our guys to show exactly the level they are capable of."
England have been included in difficult World Cup groups before, most recently in Brazil, where they were they were lumped with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. England failed to advance in South America, but Southgate played down any correlations between a difficult draw and a lack of success in the tournament.
"In terms of the previous World Cup, there's been World Cups in my lifetime that we've not qualified for so they would be the worst ever," Southgate said. "But the draw, for me, does not determine whether we have a good or a bad tournament. It's about how we approach each game and reaching the level of performance we need to when we get there.
"Although the draw is really exciting for everybody, it's great for the supporters, a significant date in the football calendar, great for us to be able to plan beyond it but all it does it tells us who we are playing and when and the rest is up to us."
When asked who England would look to avoid in the draw, Southgate wouldn't bite.
He said: "I don't think we can be thinking about who we want to avoid. We get who we get and prepare for all of those games.
"Some teams in the past would have been a good draw -- I'm thinking the likes of Sweden, we have a very average record against them and have found it very difficult to play against them. Very often we have underestimated countries.
"I was in Brazil scouting [for the 2014 tournament] and I watched Costa Rica's first two games last time, everybody had ruled them out, and I was sitting there watching them celebrate qualifying after two matches. We really have to be certain of our preparation for every match."
England could have a youthful look to the side, with Southgate recently giving a number of promising prospects their debuts.
Asked if bringing a youthful side to Russia was scary or exciting, he added: "Well, for us it's exciting, it's the way we believe is the right way to go and is the reason we played them in the games last month and we are building not just for next summer but beyond that as well.
"But we will only take young players if we believe we can perform at the level. We won't just take young players for the sake of taking young players, we will only take young players we really believe in and because they can perform on this stage but also the experience will help England in the future as well."
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