Gareth Southgate is determined to ensure England have a successful 2018 World Cup campaign but knows that “challenging conversations” are needed to help the side move on from recent setbacks at major competitions.
Southgate, who was part of the last England side to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament at Euro 96, has urged his players to learn from high-profile defeats, including the shock loss to Iceland at last year’s European Championship in France.
“That (World Cup) has to be the ultimate aim because then that drives your behaviour,” Southgate told the reporters ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Germany in Dortmund.
“The tournaments haven’t gone so well recently. I’m part of that… I’ve been involved in tournaments as a player, so it’s not all down to these guys.
“It will be a lot of hard work and it might need some more challenging conversations and difficult decisions on my part but that is why we are in elite sport.”
The former Middlesbrough boss has praised Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford ahead of this week’s internationals, suggesting England are now producing young players with world class potential.
“I know there has been a lot of talk about Germany and their system but I think ours is starting to produce a different type of player,” he added.
“I thought Marcus was excellent in the game against Chelsea (a 1-0 FA Cup loss) last week.
“He makes powerful runs in behind defenders and you can ask (Chelsea defender) Gary Cahill how much of a problem that is.”
Following the friendly in Dortmund, UEFA Group F leaders England face Lithuania in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday.