Gareth Southgate not planning major changes to England side for third-place play-off
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 13/07/18 10:28pm
Gareth Southgate says he is not planning to make major changes to his starting line-up for England's World Cup third-place play-off against Belgium on Saturday.
The two losing semi-finalists face-off in Saint Petersburg and the England manager wants his team to end their tournament with a victory.
While he acknowledges some injury-enforced alterations may have to be made, Southgate is not planning to make the same number of changes he did when England played Belgium in the group stages, when both sides had already qualified for the next round.
He said: "Everyone wants to play but sometimes it is not a good decision to play someone if their energy is not there. It won't be the same XI but we want to make as few changes as possible.
"We have high motivation to perform. We have a chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.
"There is a lot of motivation for us and Belgium have already beaten us, so we would like to address that as well.
"Emotionally it has been a difficult few days but the players are incredible. They are a pleasure to work with. They have an energy and desire.
"We want to finish the tournament well. We have set a standard of how we work and how we play."
Despite exiting the tournament with a semi-final defeat to Croatia, this World Cup has been England's most successful since 1990.
The success of Southgate's young side this summer has led to rave reviews from fans and pundits alike, as well as leading captain Harry Kane to suggest it had reconnected the team with the supporters following years of failure.
When asked how England would deal with a new, positive perception of the team, Southgate said: "If we want to play for England we have to deal with expectation.
"We have raised expectation and I don't have a problem with that because we have also raised belief in the players.
"They now see playing for England as enjoyment, fun and not feeling under siege. There is an energy and connection back."
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