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Not age, mileage is key in this edition

10 Juin 2018

Despite that, his England dream wasn't dashed until after the Three Lions' final warmup against Costa Rica on Thursday, when manager Gareth Southgate told him and Tom Heaton they would no longer be consider should the team suffer a costly injury.

Southgate refused to be drawn on whether he had decided on his starting line-up for the game in Volgograd.

"So, if I look at the three weeks we've had, I couldn't be happier with the preparation: physically, tactically and in the togetherness of the group". But three players in particular might have played unexpectedly their way into Southgate's starting eleven.

Marcus Rashford proved the catalyst at Elland Road on Thursday evening. He said to the England and Tottenham player: "I think it's really, really good what you did...well done".

"I told them I was expecting mistakes in this game and if we are not making too many of them, then we are not being creative enough". None of us are going to get excited or get out of bed just for getting out of the group. "We'll have to look at that", added Southgate.

"Most pleasing was to make 10 changes and still maintain the fluidity and fluency of the game". It's not a comfortable space for us to be at times but it helps to build a togetherness.

"Rashford played with a real swagger tonight".

Rose has had a hard season for Tottenham, as he discussed in an extraordinary interview this week, but on Thursday he played with panache.

What did the pundits say?

Fresh from the best season of his career, Raheem Sterling has been handed the responsibility and role he craved by England manager Gareth Southgate to deliver on his abundant potential at the World Cup. "That's allowing us to create an environment where they're actually having a go at things we're asking them to do", he said. He does it with an end product, which is the difference.

Former England striker Ian Wright, speaking on ITV: "Rashford took his opportunity".

The Manchester United striker unleashed a rocket from 25 yards in the first half, a shot which flew past three-time Champions League victor Keylor Navas of Real Madrid in the Costa Rica goal.

"Everything he did he did well".

Treated as a scapegoat during a series of poor England performances before a humiliating exit to Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, Sterling dubbed himself "The Hated One" on Instagram during the tournament. "You wouldn't want to play against him and Kane".

"I still need to get in the box a bit more to finish off chances", he said.

All 32 nations are excited, but when the World Cup comes around nobody is more raring to go than the English supporters.

"It's definitely a different sort of vibe", Rashford added.

Rashford is one of the best young forwards in Europe, and the 20-year-old would be a brilliant signing for Everton, Newcastle or Leicester in the summer transfer window.

Not age, mileage is key in this edition