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Luis Enrique backs under-fire De Gea


England 'can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it' - Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate has said "we can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it" despite preparing to send a comparatively young squad of players to next year's finals in Russia.

Southgate, 47, took over from Sam Allardyce after England's first match of the qualification campaign, and led the national team to the top of their group with eight wins and two draws from their 10 games.

Southgate, who gave several young players their first England caps during the last international break, told BBC Sport: "We've got to attempt to win each game, be as prepared as we can be, and see how far we can go.

"Of course, a lot of these players are going to peak in two to four years' time, but we can't just write off the tournament. I don't think anyone in England would accept that.

"We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it."

England have not won in the knockout stage of a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup in Germany -- when Sven-Goran Eriksson's side lost in the quarterfinals to Portugal.

A lacklustre England failing to get past Iceland at last year's European Championship, which cost the beleaguered Roy Hodgson his job. Two years earlier, England fell at the group stage in Brazil without winning a match.

"Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment," Southgate added.

"We've got to remember where we are starting from with this group of young players. But equally they're fiercely ambitious, everything is ahead of them and it's not for me to put a limit on their expectations."

Southgate played down the significance of the teams England will be drawn against in Russia, adding: "It's not that the draw is irrelevant but you can worry yourself silly thinking who you are going to play. We have got to be prepared to play everybody.

"In the past we have become unstuck against teams we'd be expected to beat perhaps, and at times we have played really well against teams that might be seeded higher than us."

Gareth Southgate is yet to confirm who will captain England at the 2018 World Cup.
Gareth Southgate took over as England manager following Sam Allardyce's resignation.

The challenges facing England are not just in terms of experience -- Russia alone covers one-eighth on the earth's inhabited land mass, and they could face a lot of travelling with 12 venues spread over 1,800 miles.

England will be based in Repino, in St Petersburg, and could end up travelling more than the 4,411 miles notched up commuting to their fixtures at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Southgate even seemed upbeat about the prospect of spending so much time on the road.

"The longest flight is three hours, we do that on a bus journey from St George's Park for our games at Wembley, for us that's neither here nor there," Southgate said. "Of course with any venue you never get absolutely everything you like but feel that's the best option for us."

Since taking charge of England in November 2016 having stepped in as temporary manager following Allardyce's resignation, England have won seven matches, drawn five and lost two.

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