Gareth Southgate admits England are likely to be unpopular at the World Cup in Russia
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 22/03/18 11:48pm
Gareth Southgate believes England can use the potentially hostile reception in Russia as "extra motivation" at the World Cup.
Due to the current political tensions between the two countries in the wake of the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, there is a growing sense of apprehension among those following England this summer.
However, Southgate insists any negative feeling towards his side can act as inspiration on the pitch.
"I don't think we are going to be the most popular team the way things are going at the moment," Southgate said.
"I've been used to that over my career with different teams so maybe we can use that as extra motivation."
British foreign secretary Boris Johnson suggested on Wednesday that Russia will aim to use to use the World Cup as a PR exercise rather than a celebration of football, but Southgate expects the tournament to be a success.
"It is of little interest to me what the foreign secretary thinks about it," Southgate added. "I was in Russia last year for the Confederations Cup. I think there were around 15,000 fans from Chile - it was an incredible atmosphere in the stadiums, the stadiums were brilliant, the facilities and training grounds were excellent.
"It felt like the other World Cups I've been to in terms of the experience in the stadiums and the atmosphere at the games."
Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alexander Yakovenko, has reassured England fans they will be adequately protected at the World Cup, after concerns were raised for their safety following the violence that marred Euro 2016 in France.
Southgate insists he would be happy to travel to Russia as fan but says he understands the concerns of some supporters.
"Personally I would because I've spent some time in Russia and felt incredibly comfortable there," he said. "But everybody has an individual level of what they want to do, what they are comfortable with, and the situation is developing so we don't know what that will look like in June.
"But with everything I'm aware of at the moment, it wouldn't stop me going."