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Kylian Mbappe: France forward misses open training ahead of England World Cup quarter-final clash

England take on reigning champions France in crunch World Cup quarter-final on Saturday; France forward Kylian Mbappe is tournament's top scorer with five goals; England assistant manager Steve Holland says they must pay "special attention" to 23-year-old at the Al Bayt Stadium

Kylian Mbappe celebrates his second goal against Poland
Image: Kylian Mbappe scored twice in France's last-16 win over Poland

England assistant manager Steve Holland says France star Kylian Mbappe is among a handful of players on the planet who need "special attention".

Mbappe missed France's open training session on Tuesday - just four days out from Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against England.

The PSG forward, who is the top scorer at the tournament with five goals, underwent a separate recovery session.

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Sky Sports Chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol analyses the absence of Kylian Mbappe at France's open training session and whether or not England should take notice

But the 23-year-old provides a major headache for England, whose assistant helped devise plans to keep Lionel Messi quiet as Chelsea shocked Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals in 2012.

"I think there are a handful of players on the planet that you need to consider special attention to," Holland said. "Messi has been one and probably still is.

"You'd have to put Mbappe in that kind of category I would suggest.

"We do need to look at trying to avoid leaving ourselves in situations where he is as devastating as we've all seen. We have to try to find a way of avoiding that.

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"I remember having a conversation with (Jose) Mourinho about it a long time ago when he was with Real Madrid, they were playing Barcelona and they had (Cristiano) Ronaldo.

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France's all-time leading goalscorer Olivier Giroud says the world has still not seen the best of striker Kylian Mbappe

"(Dani) Alves would be the right-back for Barcelona and flying forwards in attack, he would play a soldier against him to try to stop him.

"But then of course you don't get any threat from your team from the soldier as you're just stopping somebody, you're not actually hurting them.

"Then he would try to play Ronaldo against him, directly, one against one because Alves was fantastic going forwards but maybe not quite as good defensively as a consequence.

"There is always a plus and a minus to everyone. It's that cat and mouse of, yes, we have still got to try to deal with him but we also have to try to exploit the weakness that his super strength delivers, if I'm making sense.

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Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith reveals just how poorly England have done against the 'top sides' in their World Cup history and why Kylian Mbappe is the one to watch

"Trying to adapt your team to cover for that while still trying to create your own problems is I think the challenge.

"I would like to think we won't just be looking to stop a player but we would be looking to try to do everything possible to limit his super strength whilst still trying to focus on our own strengths because we have good players.

"Players just as likely to cause France trouble as Mbappe would be to us. We have to find that balance."

'England vs France is a 50-50 game'

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Former England striker Alan Smith gives his verdict on England's 3-0 win against Senegal and assesses how the top sides at the World Cup are likely to concede chances

England players had Tuesday off but staff have begun preparations in earnest, listening to an in-depth report on France at 9am on Monday having only arrived back from the Senegal match six hours earlier.

Tim Dittmer, the Football Association head of coaching, has been tracking the reigning champions for the last two years and gave a presentation on Saturday's opponents.

"It's a 50-50 game in my eyes," Holland said. "If you're playing inferior opposition and you play well you get the result.

"That's the challenge. We could play well and still not get the result. It's 50-50 with special players who can suddenly produce something out of nothing.

"But I think the team are really well equipped for the journey this quarter-final could be. It could be a long night. I feel we're as ready as we've ever been to navigate that."

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Bukayo Saka was asked about comparisons with French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe but insisted 'there's only one Mbappe, just like there's only one me'

Holland believes England have the "perfect opportunity" to prepare the players tactically and physically given this week's schedule, saying there is "no excuse" heading into the weekend.

It is, he says, about building on what they have done rather than going back to the start as onlookers wonder whether they will stick with a four-man backline or return to a back five.

Holland does not "completely agree with" the perception that the latter is a more negative approach, saying it is about how they can "utilise the attributes we have been given by the country".

"I think the challenge with us before the tournament and before every game we play now is to look at what we have, the tools we have in the bag," Holland said.

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Former England defender Wes Brown backs the Three Lions to beat France 2-1 and says Gareth Southgate shouldn't change the line-up just for Kylian Mbappe

"Look at the problems the opponent is going to cause us, their weaknesses, and try to come up with something that gives us the best chance of winning the game.

"That sounds a bit obvious but really but to win tournaments you need to be the best team in Europe or the world in both penalty boxes.

"There will be lots of opinions about how you get from one penalty box to the other - different nations will do that in different ways and there is no right or wrong - but normally in the two penalty boxes it's law."

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